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Suspect Charged in Taiwan’s Lethal ‘Ghost Constructing’ Hearth

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwanese prosecutors on Friday formally charged a suspect with murder and arson within the case of an October fire that killed 46 and injured dozens.

The suspect, Huang Ge-ge, is accused of intentionally pouring scorching ashes from mosquito-repellent incense on the couch within the room the place her associate, Kuo Ching-wen, lived, in response to a statement posted by the prosecutors of the southern port metropolis of Kaohsiung, the place the fireplace came about.

The prosecutors mentioned that Ms. Huang, 52, was sad that Mr. Kuo, 53, had not answered her calls or replied to her messages on a messaging app after they’d quarreled earlier that evening.

Ms. Huang has been detained since two days after the Oct. 14 hearth, which started round 2 a.m. Mr. Kuo, additionally initially a suspect within the case, was not at residence on the time and has not been charged with any crime, in response to the prosecutors.

Ms. Huang left Mr. Kuo’s first-floor room shortly after she poured the ashes on the couch, prosecutors say. The fireplace unfold within the wood-furnished area, and quickly engulfed the upper flooring of the 13-story constructing, making it arduous for the residents — mostly poorer and older people who had been asleep on the time — to flee.

On the time of the fireplace, the constructing had suffered years of neglect and was inhabited by squatters, gamblers, intercourse staff and older and poorer folks. The typical age of these killed within the hearth was 62.

Ms. Huang had “meant to make her boyfriend embarrassed and regretful by setting the fireplace, which brought on main disasters and claimed harmless lives,” and he or she “confirmed no regrets after committing the crime,” the prosecutors mentioned within the assertion, which additionally indicated they’d search the loss of life penalty.

The fireplace was the second-deadliest in Taiwan since 1995, when a blaze broke out in a karaoke membership within the central metropolis of Taichung, killing 64. It raised broader considerations about lax security requirements within the island’s ageing buildings. The once-bustling constructing in Kaohsiung’s waterfront district, constructed within the Nineteen Eighties, was partly deserted and had deteriorated quickly lately, turning into what is commonly often known as a “ghost constructing.”

Piles of rubbish had accrued on decrease flooring and within the stairwells, which hearth officers mentioned had accelerated the fireplace’s unfold and impeded rescue efforts.

The blaze additionally highlighted the dearth of help for poor and older people who find themselves determined for housing and sometimes don’t have any selection however to stay in dilapidated buildings.

After the fireplace, the Taiwanese authorities created a list of the island’s older buildings and ordered native governments to enhance companies for older folks dwelling alone. Kaohsiung’s authorities has additionally mentioned it might pay compensation to family members of those that died within the blaze.

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