Thursday, September 29, 2011

Taichung News Update: The Ala Nightclub Fire

Back on March 5th of this year, 2011, a fire performance at the Ala nightclub in downtown Taichung went terribly wrong, causing a blaze that killed nine people. The fire occurred during a routine show at the Ala nightclub, famous for its striptease shows and dancers with live animals.
Witnesses say the ceiling was immediately torched when the performance went array, causing a fireball engulfing the bar in a matter of minutes. The victims, five men and four women, (two married couples) were all found on the second floor and died of asphyxiation. One survivor was quoted as saying the only reason she got out was that she had been watching the staircase looking for a friend and was able to locate it through the smoke.
This fire has caused widespread outcry over the last half year and led to a crackdown on illegal building and fire permits throughout the city. One industry targeted has been the numerous foreign pubs. Landmarks like Pig Pen, Party Animal, FuBar, the Londoner, La Bodega, and Liquid Lounge have either been shut down or been put under suspension and had their liquor licenses revoked.
These buildings, along with the Ala Nightclub, are now condemned and stand in ruin. This story connects to me personally because the Ala Nightclub is directly beneath my apartment and I watched it burn, smoke pouring from the ceiling the night of the fire.
It is another example of poor restrictions on buildings here in Taiwan, and how scapegoats like closing foreign establishment allows government officials to continue to receive bribes and kickbacks while pretending to be ridding the city of its bad elements.
The people who perished here died senslessly in a terrible tragedy that could have been avoided. It is up to local officials to correct corruption among inspectors and establish clear building codes and safety standards for all patrons and employees.

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