Quick navigation: | Top | Safety Fir--OUCH! | 7.6 Earthquake (9/21/1999) | Scaffolding Collapse (2/22/2000) | Pachang Creek Tragedy (7/22/2000) | Kaoping Bridge Collapse (8/27/2000) | Helicopter Crash (9/6/2000) | Singapore Airlines Crash (10/31/2000) | S&M Play Ends in Death (2/3/2001) | New uses for cell phones (2/13/2001) | Drunk Cops Don't Only Hit Other Cops (3/1/2001) | Taichung Train Derailment (3/12/2001) | Category 3A Nuclear Accident (3/18/2001) | Airbus Takes Flight -- Downward! (4/3/2001) | Careful with that bus, Eugene (4/15/2001) | Same freeway, fifth collapse (4/19/2001) | Urethral madness (4/21/2001) | That sinking feeling (5/1/2001) | Shut up and blow up your sink once more (5/7/2001) | Enema of the state (5/7/2001) | Fire on the bayou (5/13/2001) | John Bobbitt with a twist (5/14/2001) | Retentive madness (5/16/2001) | Blasts, insertions, swallowings (5/18/2001) | Like a day without sunshine? (5/20/2001) | When in a pickle, don't be fickle (5/21/2001) | Don't plug that in! (5/22/2001)
Zhe4 shi4 wo3 men0 zui4 li4 hai4 de0 di4 fang1!
(Last update to this page: 9/8/2002)

Trivia: "E.Y." sounds like "accident" in Mandarin

Alexander the Great 'untied' the Gordian Knot with his SWORD!
Help ! ! !
"Safety Fir--OUCH!"

Taiwan is a constant myriad of construction and demolition. This is probably because much of the construction is illegal, dangerous, or both. The axiom "safety first" is ubiquitous in Taiwan -- especially around construction sites -- but "villas" like the Lincoln Mansions condos are built with complete and utter disregard for safety. During Typhoon Winnie in late 1997, a landslide toppled an illegally constructed 5-story structure (part of these "mansions") killing several people. As of August 2001, the residents were still fighting for compensation. The planners of these "villas" only care about quick profit and provide no service after they get their money. Speaking of money, some of the money obviously goes into the pockets of people working for the Taiwan government who approve such construction projects and who go to great lengths to cover up these improprieties.

Read here what the Taipei Times says about what the Lincoln Mansions complex is like 5 years later. Pay particular attention to the line that reads, "the construction company has very good relations with important officials in the central government," written years after I wrote the above paragraph.

If you think that occurrences like this are few and far between, you're in for a real surprise. While Taiwan is about one fourth the size of the state of Louisiana, the frequency with which tragedies occur is like nothing you've ever seen. I'm talking about car/motorcycle/gravel truck accidents, fires, gas explosions, train wrecks, jobsite injuries, building collapses, deaths by medical malfeasance, and (insert your favorite way to be killed or disfigured here). With a population density of around 666 people per square kilometer, it's a wonder there aren't even more such problems, actually.
Let me discuss some actual reasons that I believe are directly behind the dangerous nature of life in Taiwan. One day I was sitting at my computer doing some work, and I smelled smoke. I immediately jumped up and tried to find the source of the smell. When I had located it, I realized that dozens of other people could probably smell it, too. However, they probably didn't think anything of it. A woman on the street five floors below me was burning "ghost money" in a large metal can. It's a ubiquitous sight in Taiwan, where the culture is heavily burdened by tradition. You see, all the locals who smelled it probably guessed right away what it was. But what if it weren't? What if it was their newspapers or a mattress that was on fire? They'd pretty likely also ignore it until the flames were right in their faces. And that's probably why a fire isn't just called a "fire" in Mandarin. It's called a "BIG fire."
Add to this the concept of "face." As you read the items below keep this in mind, and you'll realize that a lot of these "accidents" could have been prevented if someone had admitted that a mistake had been made, that they needed help, or that they simply didn't know what the hell they were doing.
This page hardly comprises all the accidents, tragedies, and other horrific news items which could've been avoided. It would be nice if one of the local news stations would keep a daily, weekly, monthly, and/or yearly tally of Taiwan's accidents (as listed above), but it would probably be an impossible task even for a professional organization and may lead to even more death and disfigurement in the attempt. Oh, well -- here we go!
Mondo (Lack of) Safety in the News

On Wednesday, May 12, 1999, 2 structures in Taipei collapsed unexpectedly (?!). It was noticed that the buildings were leaning earlier in the day, so fortunately, most people were evacuated. At the last news report I heard, one person was still unaccounted for, however.
On Monday, May 17, 1999, it was reported that at the annual "Buddha Cleaning Festival" in Changhua (where the past year's accumulated grime is removed from the huge statue of Buddha at Bagwa Mountain) a scaffold collapsed onto nearly 100 spectators injuring 28 of them. (As far as I know, Buddha-cleaning-watching is not a spectator sport where I'm from.)
On Tuesday, September 21, 1999 at 1:47 AM, an earthquake measuring -- according to various reports -- between 7.3 and 7.6 on the Richter scale struck Taiwan. The quake was powerful enough to completely topple buildings 120 miles from the epicenter. Around 6,100 buildings -- some having as many as 100 apartments within -- were rendered uninhabitable by the quake. The destruction was not limited to land and buildings. Over 2,400 people were killed, more than 11,000 injured, and another 100,000 or more lost their homes. As of January 1, 2000, many people were still without permanent shelter and were living in tents. This is because the government hadn't yet gotten around to declaring their homes unsafe so they could receive compensation. I have a whole section of this website dedicated to the 921 Chi-Chi Earthquake here. It contains daily reports on all noteworthy seismic activity for the first couple of months after the 921 quake, links to other sites with info on this quake (and earthquakes in general), and irregular reports of any quake-related news having occurred since the BIG ONE.
In December 1999 or January 2000, the Taichung City government undertook measures to improve traffic safety by removing several sculptures and monuments from intersections around the city. These included the intersection of Chungming and Taichungkang Roads and the intersection of Wuchuan and Chungcheng Roads. Instead of carting the offending objects off to safer locations like parks or school grounds, the government (in typically governmental fashion) brought in heavy machinery and summarily destroyed them. Let's give the Taichung City government a big hand (to the back of the head!).
On Wednesday, January 26, 2000, the Taipei Times reported a dangerous situation involving illegal TV cables which caused a motorcycle accident. The article refers to the situation -- which is one feature of Taiwan's "anarcho-capitalism" (where anything goes if there's a profit to be made) -- as "at best an eyesore, and at worst, a threat to life." See above for a photo of this sort of thing which I posted in early 1999. Read the entire Taipei Times article here.
On Friday, February 18, 2000, the Taipei Times published an article saying that victims of the Lincoln Mansions disaster (a 1997 incident in which 28 people died as a result of buildings collapsing during Typhoon Winnie) have filed a NT$1.084 billion lawsuit against against Taiwan's Ministry of the Interior and the Taipei County Government's bureaus of agriculture and public works. The article says, "The lawsuit accuses the interior ministry of negligence in the issuance of construction licenses, while the public works bureau is accused of illegally protecting the construction company that built the Lincoln Mansions complex." Read the entire Taipei Times article here.

Update to this item: Read here what the Taipei Times says about how messed up things still are at the Lincoln Mansions complex 5 years after the disaster (Sept. 5, 2002).
Sunday, February 20, 2000 - It is said that about 60 people were injured and 1 person killed during festivities in Yenshui, Tainan County. Every year during the Lantern Festival, there is a "hornet rocket" festival. Its purpose is to thank the gods for their blessings, but there's madness in the method. "Honeycombs" of rockets are aimed right into the crowd in this spectacular event! Although spectators wear all sorts of protective gear, people inevitably receive injuries -- not only from the fireworks, but from people who drive their motorcycles through the crowds and from fistfights which arise over "whose firecracker hit whose girlfriend" (according to Lonely Planet's guide to Taiwan). Some people never learn.
Tuesday, February 22, 2000 - A large scaffold collapsed in Taipei's Youth Park on Sunday injuring seven people. Investigations into the accident are being conducted by the Administration of Industrial and Mining Inspection.
Sunday, June 25, 2000 - In personal safety news, in an attempt to fix up my new apartment, I had recently purchased a can of PU foam filler, designed to fill cracks and plug up holes. However, the stuff wouldn't come out of the can. I read the English instructions (which suggested wearing gloves, goggles, and old clothing), the Spanish instructions, and as much of the German as I could glean before finally giving up. In hopes of either an exchange or a refund, I brought the can back to the Géant Hyper-Mart where I had bought it. That's where the "fun" began. The Mandarin label didn't even have instructions, so the people at the service counter started doing things like holding the valve up to their eyes trying to peek inside, twisting and pulling the nozzle, etc. One of the workers said that there was "no hole" for the foam to come out of. I told her it was a valve. "If there was a hole, it would just come out all at once." My words went unheeded. "Specialists" from the hardware department were called in, and phone calls were made, but nothing was coming out of the can. Finally, someone on the phone suggested "making a hole" in the top of the can. A brilliant red light should have started flashing in someone else's mind, too, but the guy holding the can grabbed a mini-screwdriver without hesitation. I ran out the door as he stuck it right into the valve. First, gas came out. This was followed by a torrent of the PU foam. Deciding that the can hadn't exploded, I went back inside to find the guy putting the can (still spewing PU foam) into a garbage can. I told him it would expand in there, but again, my words were unheeded. Deciding that this was a futile effort, I got a voucher to apply toward the purchase of something else and quickly got the hell out of there.
Monday, June 26, 2000 - More apartment news. I told a friend that I'd be having an air conditioner installed in my fifth floor apartment this morning. It was to be installed in a window which had a plate of glass caulked in. He said, "You know, the guy's gonna break the glass to put it in, don't you?" "No, he's not," I retorted. "Yes, he is." "No, he's not. I won't let him." Well, the guy came, and right away he wanted to break the glass. I suggested otherwise. "Hey, don't you have a knife or something so you could cut the caulking out?" He tried. Problem was that it also had caulk on the outside which was inaccessible without a crane. He put a large piece of cardboard against the window (to protect himself from flying glass), took a hammer, and WHAM! A car alarm went off. WHAM! The car alarm was still wailing. He peeked out the other window then went back to his whacking. I should've known! Later, after he had gone, I went downstairs to check things out. Near the building's entrance I found a piece of glass which was large enough to have done some serious damage to person or property. (About 3 inches square. How'd ya like to have something like that fall on your head from 50 feet up?!) Perhaps he had cleaned up other larger chunks. Who knows? I just know I'm even more wary when I walk down the street than I was before.
Tuesday, June 27, 2000 - A large scaffold collapsed onto the roadway at the intersection of Taichung's Wenhsin and Nantun Roads injuring at least 4 motorcyclists. A couple of days later, I took a ride to check out the location for myself, and the twisted metal was still lying there in the roadway. This was the big, heavy, metal variety of scaffolding -- not the bamboo kind that's often used in Taiwan. See above for news of another scaffolding collapse.
Saturday, July 22, 2000 - Four workers doing riverbed construction work in Chiayi County's Pachang River were caught in a flash flood late in the afternoon (5:30 PM, according to a report in the July 25 issue of the Taiwan News). They stood in the middle of the river for at least an hour and a half (some reports said 3 hours) waiting for a rescue helicopter that never came. Neither the Chiayi County Fire Department nor the Air Force base in Chiayi would dipatch a helicopter. The Chiayi Fire Department -- whose rescue attempts were ineffective -- didn't request help from the Air Force until 5:55 PM, and turned to the air police at 6:20 PM after having their request turned down by the Air Force. In the end, the four workers were all swept away by the current while family members looked on helplessly. A few minutes later, a helicopter finally took off from an air police base in Taichung, but it was obviously way too late to be of any help. Read a Taipei Times article detailing the situation here and a letter to the editor discussing the idiotic analysis of the situation by politicians and the media here. See a more detailed timeline of the events as presented by prosecutors and published in the August 2, 2000 edition of the Taipei Times here.
On Tuesday, August 1, 2000, more than 100 volunteer firefighters from Chiayi County protested criticism of their mishandling of the Pachang River tragedy detailed above. Of the rescue teams that arrived, one neglected to bring rope throwing equipment, another brought non-working equipment, and when usable equipment finally arrived, no one knew how to use it. These people know no shame. Instead of protesting, they should be offering apologies to the victims' families.
On Friday, August 4, 2000, a Taipei city bus killed a motorist in another vehicle, bringing the total number of people killed by buses in Taiwan in the past 6 months to 43.
Friday, August 18, 2000 - It has been 3 years since the Lincoln Mansions disaster. On August 18, 1997, 28 people died as the result of the collapse of a retaining wall during a mudslide caused by Typhoon Winnie. The mass of mud was powerful enough to topple a 5-story building. Five hundred families abandoned their homes in the complex due to well-warranted fear for their lives, yet they are still being hounded by banks for mortgage payments and ignored by the government in their search for a settlement. According to an article in the Taipei Times, "the homes had been built on a land slope susceptible to mudslides" and "the developers ... built more buildings than the land could hold." However, the developer still obtained government approval for the project. According to the article, "The builder, the architect and contractors were convicted of manslaughter for their professional negligence. Government officials who rubber-stamped the housing project were also found guilty and sentenced to jail terms ranging between five and seven years," but the victims are still waiting while the criminal suit is under appeal at the Supreme Court. Read the entire Taipei Times article here.
Heads up!
Photo by Taipei Times
Click image to enlarge

Photo by Taipei Times
Click image to enlarge
On Sunday, August 27, 2000, a 100-meter long section of the Kaoping Bridge fell into the river below injuring 22 people. Chang Chang-hai, chairman of the Taiwan Professional Civil Engineers Association and a member of a committee investigating the cause of the collapse, says that "the collapse ... reflects the poor quality of public construction work in Taiwan" and that "people simply don't care about the quality of (such) construction." This bridge and seven others in Taiwan have been labeled as dangerous since at least 1996, and the other seven are accidents waiting to happen. The actual cause of Sunday's bridge collapse is believed to be illegal gravel quarrying (controlled by organized crime groups and local government officials) being carried out upstream from the bridge. This increased the river's flow, allowing the base of the bridge supports to be washed away. Read the Taipei Times article reporting the accident here or the article detailing the causes here.

You should've seen the video!
Photo by Taipei Times
Click image to enlarge
On Wednesday, September 6, 2000, an attempt to create propaganda regarding the abilities of Taiwan's rescue forces backfired when a National Police Administration helicopter crashed into Tainan County's Tsengwen Creek during an exercise before the media which was intended to re-create the situation at the Pachang River. The helicopter briefly dropped into the river from a height of several meters, then ascended a short distance going into an uncontrolled spin before dropping back into the water once again. As it did so, the chopper tilted on its side, and the rotor broke into many pieces. One person had already jumped out of the helicopter into the river, but amazingly survived. Read a Taipei Times article about the crash here. View a video (choose your format) via CNN's website here (CNN link not working on 12/24/2002), or a Real Player video (from Helis.com) here (...but this one worked).

On Monday, October 9, 2000, a 70-meter section of a freeway interchange under construction in Yunlin County collapsed slightly injuring two foreign laborers. The United Daily News reports that an earthquake on October 7 may be partially to blame, but at this point this is merely speculation.
Remains of the tail section
Photo by Taipei Times
Click image to enlarge

Another angle of the tail section
Photo by Liberty Times
Click image to enlarge
On Tuesday, October 31, 2000, as Typhoon Xangsane tore a path of destruction across Taiwan which included floods, landslides, and drownings, a Singapore Air jet crashed upon takeoff from Taoyuan's Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport killing 82 passengers, injuring nearly 60 others, and leaving around 44 more who somehow escaped the wreckage unscathed. The Boeing 747-400 jumbo jet was attempting to take off from a runway that was closed for repairs and slammed into concrete blocks and excavation equipment tearing the fuselage into 3 sections.

Although this was Singapore Air's first crash in their 28-year history, Aviation Safety Council authorities were quick to place the blame directly and entirely on the pilots. Judging from Taiwan's safety record and upon further examination of the circumstances, I find this to be rather difficult to swallow. At the CKS airport, Singapore Air jets are dispatched by Taiwanese-owned EVA Airways. The plot thickens. The runway undergoing repairs ran parallel to the correct runway from which the plane should have taken off. The one the plane eventually entered had nothing blocking entry or even pointing out the situation (via signs, lights, etc.), and the runway's lights were ON! Add to this the rain and typhoon-strength winds, and it naturally spells disaster. Backhoe
AP Photo
Click image to see the CNN article

Photo by Taipei Times
Click image to enlarge
In the end, who's to blame? First of all, the airport authorities for not making access to the runway impossible. Next are possibly the air traffic controllers who gave the pilots a "clear for takeoff" signal before sending those 82 passengers off to a fiery death. Finally, all those who contribute to the attitude that causes all caution to be thrown to the wind resulting in death, serious injury, psychological trauma, and immeasurable damage to social order. (If you think that last sentence is a bit of an exaggeration, ask me how many unhelmeted motorcyclists I saw today talking on their cell phones as they drove down the street against traffic.)

View more images from the crash here.
Read the transcript from the cockpit voice recorder here.
On Saturday, February 3, 2001 - A 20-year old Taipei man met another man going by the name of "Sadistic Dog" or "Vicious Dog" (no relation to yours truly) in an online S&M chat room, meeting him later for "rough sex." During this encounter, his mouth and nose were covered with adhesive tape, and he died of asphyxiation. Duh! The killer put the body into a suitcase and disposed of it near a temple, where it was found 2 days later. Read more of the ghastly, grisly details here.
An article in ET Today on Tuesday, February 13, 2001 (the day before "western" Valentine's Day) reported 2 unrelated (?) cases of cell phones being removed from women's rectums where they had gotten stuck during sex play. In both cases the cell phones were identical models which had a "vibrate" mode. Read the article (in Big-5 Chinese encoding) and see an interesting image here. In case you can't read it, the summary goes something like this: "Cell phones have so many uses! Now, they're being used as sex toys." On TV, they were showing cell phones with a "mosaic" covering the image -- I guess it was too "erotic" for the average viewer! Otherwise, it's simply another case of the lack of privacy in Taiwan's medical industry. I recall a nurse some time ago telling me and my wife about the old guy who was visiting the doctor ahead of me. I told the nurse that she shouldn't be telling us about him 'cuz she'd probably tell the next patient about me. Any of you ever have this sort of experience? Write to me about it!
Friday, February 23, 2001 - The Singapore Airlines crash mentioned above is in the news once again. As I suggested in my original report on this matter, it seems that the blame doesn't lie entirely with the pilots. Officials now suspect airport officials of violating international standards by not marking the runway with a big cross to indicate it was not to be used. There were also indications that runway lighting was indeed a problem. Read CNN's article on the subject here.
On Wednesday, March 1, 2001 a drunken Taipei County police official ran over a traffic cone which then flew through the air and struck a Taipei City police officer in the face knocking him unconscious. The attempts by officials to cover up this incident led the media to bring the seriousness of the issue (of drunken police) to the attention of the (drunken) public. In the last 2 years, there have been 6 cases of drunken police officers hitting people with their vehicles, in some cases causing deaths. The problem is not limited to the police. According to a Taipei Times article, "Drunk driving accidents resulting in fatalities occur almost daily in Taiwan. In 1999, there were nearly 125,000 cases of individuals caught driving under the influence. In the first three months of last year, there were roughly 31,000 cases."
Photo by Taipei Times
Click image to enlarge
On Monday, March 12, 2001 another incident reminiscent of the Pachang Creek tragedy occurred in downtown Taichung. A train making its way southward had a brake malfunction which prevented the train from stopping in Fengyuan, 10 minutes to the north of Taichung. As it reached Taichung, the train was diverted to a track with a "buffer stop" to avoid a potential collision with another train, but the stop was located above the busy intersection of Minsheng Road and Chienkuo Road. Authorities failed to clear the area, and when the train slammed into the buffer, the locomotive was destroyed killing 2 of the workers on the train and leaving another worker in critical condition. (This person died a short while later. As it turned out, he was the father of a good friend of mine.) At least 3 people on the ground below were injured when four carriages carrying iron bars for railroad tracks fell off of the bridge upon impact with the buffer. Nobody seems to be asking why the buffer was located just where it was. Read the initial Taipei Times report here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2001 - Just a day later, another situation involving a train in Taipei County left over a hundred people stuck in a tunnel. The article regarding the incident mentioned above says that Chen Te-pei, former managing director of Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA), resigned last October "after a spate of five railway accidents in one week." Let's see how long it takes current director Huang Te-chi to do so. More importantly, let's see how long it takes to get somebody in there who will straighten the mess out.
Do you feel lucky? Editorial cartoon from
Taipei Times
Click image to enlarge
On the morning of Sunday, March 18, 2001 a "category 3A" accident occurred at the Nuclear Power Plant Number Three in Pingtung County. During that foggy morning, salty deposits which had accumulated on electrical transmission lines over a long period without maintenance short-circuited, causing 2 generators to shut down. Two other deisel-powered generators failed to take up the slack, and a fire erupted. Due to the lack of power, the temperature in the reactor's core rose enough to cause metal plates to melt. A third generator was quickly installed, just in time to avoid a meltdown. This was Taiwan's worst nuclear plant accident ever.

Recent controversy has surrounded Plant Number Four whose construction was halted a couple of months ago by the new DPP (Democratic Progressive Party) government and restarted over political considerations. Read more details and thought-provoking commentary regarding the accident in an editorial published March 20 in the Taipei Times.
On the rainy afternoon of Tuesday, April 3, 2001, the driver of an "Airbus" on its way to Taoyuan's CKS International Airport decided to take a detour to avoid traffic. Instead of arriving early, or even on time, the driver drove the bus off the road, plunging it and its passengers about 30 meters downward into a ravine. Speculation by police blames the accident on either the rain or faulty brakes, but you and I know better, don't we? First of all, the driver wasn't following his normal route. (I have complained time and time again about bus drivers doing this.) I'd also lay money on the fact that he didn't have much respect for traffic laws (nor the safety of his passengers). Read more about this bus crash here. (As of December, 2002, I can no longer find this story.)
Saturday, April 14, 2001 - While it was still "Friday the 13th" in the western hemisphere, Taiwan's TV news was reporting that doctors in Miaoli had removed a 41 cm string from a man's bladder. He had inserted the "Hello Kitty" cord -- originally designed to hold his partner's cell phone -- via his urethra to enhance their sexual pleasure, but after 10 days inside, he seemed to be having second thoughts. He shoulda read this webpage!
Photo stolen from ET Today News
Click image to enlarge.
Sunday, April 15, 2001 - Two Ren You buses on a mountain road near Taichung's "Encore Gardens" had a head-on collision around 1:00 this afternoon which resulted in at least 4 deaths and 45 injuries. In addition to being overloaded (some reports say there were nearly 100 people on board), the bus coming down the mountain apparently lost its brakes and slammed into the other bus in a curve.

This was not today's only bus crash in Taichung. A Tung Lien bus arriving from Taipei crashed into several pedestrians and parked taxis in front of the Taichung Train Station injuring seven people. One taxi driver who had to be cut out of his vehicle lost a leg in the collision. I personally saw the aftermath of this accident. Bang!
Photo stolen from SET News
The small yellow thing on the left used to be a taxi.
Click image to enlarge

On my own dangerous bus ride home from Changhua this evening, I was reminded of another strange and dangerous situation in progress. A tall building is being demolished just inside the Taichung city limits near the intersection of Fuhsing Road and Taching Street. My guess is that it's being done because of the 921 Earthquake, so while the process is taking quite a long time, that's not the point I'm addressing. You'd have to see it to believe it -- they're using a steamshovel to demolish the building -- from the top down! It was up there knocking stuff down from somewhere around the 15th floor. (Wouldn't the "implosion" method be cheaper and less dangerous?) Too bad I didn't have my camera with me, but it oughta take a while longer to finish, so you may still have a chance to witness this if you're in Taichung. Just be sure to stay well out of the way!
Zhong-er-bridge is fall-ing down, fall-ing down, fall-ing down
Photo by Taipei Times
Click here to read their article
Click image to enlarge
Thursday, April 19, 2001 - Another 205-meter long section of the Second Freeway being built in the Changhua-Nantou area collapsed onto Fentsao Road ("Fenyuan - Tsaotun" -- Taipei Times got it wrong) at around 11:00 AM injuring 15 people at the time of occurrence and one more later in the evening during the cleanup operation. It has been speculated that heavy rains on Wednesday night caused one of the support pillars in the adjacent river to give way. Get real! Don't you think planning for typhoons would be normal in a region such as Taiwan? One heavy rain should not cause such a disaster.

According to this evening's news reports, there were 4 such collapses along the same freeway last year. Two people were killed and more than 20 people were injured in those incidents. A China Post article quotes local media reports as saying that "[o]nly one was reportedly caused by human negligence, as all the others were said to have been produced by natural disasters." Must've been that "Y2K" bug -- or maybe gangsters are still illegally quarrying gravel from riverbeds. (Duh! Gangsters are "natural disasters," aren't they?) Or something!
Hey, pencil dick!
Photo by CTS News
Click image to enlarge
Saturday, April 21, 2001 - Somebody else should've read about the Mondo Dangers listed here. A Hsinchu man had a 10-centimeter section of a disposable wooden chopstick surgically removed from his bladder where it had gotten stuck after being inserted via -- you guessed it -- his urethra! This was only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.
Other objects found in vivo were a ballpoint pen refill (spring included), a rubber band, and a paper clip. Hmmm. Maybe his girlfriend accidentally shot the refill in there using the rubber band and paper clip as a slingshot. Ya think?! R-O-O-M !
Photo by TVBS News
of objects found in
a man's bladder
Click image to enlarge

Honey, dinner's ready! Have you washed your hands?
Photo by SET News
At left, you can see an open toilet. In the center of the image above the blood is the collapsed sink.
Click image to enlarge
Tuesday, May 1, 2001 - This is weeeeeeeeeeeird. It's scaaaaaaaaary. It's haaaaaaaard to explain (which is why I didn't post related stories much earlier), but I'll try. The latest in a series of lavatory-related accidents occurred today in Kaohsiung. An 18-year old student was rushed to the hospital with severe injuries incurred while washing his face. You might be saying to yourself, "What the f... heck?!" The images on the news (and to the left) showed a broken sink and huge, blurred out pools of blood. (I guess this was to lessen the effect on the faint of heart.) The explanation wasn't real clear about what happened, but there was a deep, 15 to 20-centimeter long cut on the arm involved. The broken sink apparently severed a large blood vessel almost completely (hence the copious amount of blood).

This is at least the third such injury within the past month caused by sinks in southern Taiwan alone, according to TVBS. (SET News says it's the third this year in the Kaohsiung area.) Other recent incidents involving young children have been reported in the news as "exploding sinks," but this goes over my head. I've never heard of an exploding sink before. Have you? Perhaps more background on the issue would give you a clearer picture.

In the first couple of cases, it was reported that these sinks had "exploded" with a loud bang. In each case, unsupervised children were involved, and their injuries were rather serious. The adults who were at home at the time of the accidents all reported that they, too, had heard the "explosions." However, in the news images, there were no visible signs of any explosion (burns, widely scattered fragments, broken windows, etc.) -- only the jagged remains of sinks which had broken off close to the wall -- and lots of blood. Looks familiar
Photo by SET News
The same thing every time.
Click image to enlarge
At least one reporter (SET News' Yen Chi-lang) was curious as to why there were so many of this type of accident recently, but she apparently didn't bother to investigate whether or not these sinks came from the same manufacturer, were made of the same materials, or were installed by the same person. Only time will tell what the true cause is, but I'm laying my bets on substandard materials and installation methods combined with leaning on the sink and the remarkable amount of face that would be lost if one were to admit that they brought that "sinking" feeling upon themselves. A friend in the U.S. wrote:
I wonder if you (or anybody) there ever gets the real story in news? Sounds like a buncha bull to me -- exploding sinks. Also, I wouldn't rush so fast to blame "manufacturers." With all the reports you seem to have there of self-destructive motivations (chopstick up the dick?), I'd be more prone to think you are caught on an island of Mishima-like self-mutilators, and to save "face" of their culture, they constantly report these things as weird "accidents." What do ya think of that theory?
Well, I'd be the last to deny any of what he said! However, I'm leaving some of these things up to you, the readers, to figure out for yourselves. The pieces of the puzzle are all there for you to assemble: kids, "exploding" sinks, Kaohsiung, duplication. In the case of the reporters, 2 + 2 = 22! In the "Mayday" case, I'd say that either he fell down onto the sink (when it broke beneath his weight), or the sink jumped up and bit him. You decide. Anyone care to argue my friend's point?
In related news, people are being been reminded not to stand on the seats of public toilets after a woman recently received a 50-centimeter gash in one leg when the toilet she was standing on (while attempting to take a load off) broke beneath her weight! Even the doctor got woozy upon seeing that injury. (Maybe it was the smell.) So much for evolution of the fittest.
Really Mom! It wasn''t me! It just ex*plo*ded! I swear!
Photo by SET News
A 30-year old man describes how his sink "bào diào le."
Click image to enlarge
Monday, May 7, 2001 - Wouldn't you know it? Another exploding sink! A man in Taoyuan put his clothes into the bathroom sink before taking a shower, planning to wash them there afterwards. When he finished showering, he got ready to wash the clothes, and upon "bumping" the sink, it "exploded" ("bào diào le."), he said as his eyes shifted nervously back and forth.

In almost simultaneous up-the-butt news, an 87-year old woman in Chungli got an enema syringe stuck in her ass while trying to relieve constipation which had been tormenting her for the past two days. She went to Ten-Chen Hospital to have it removed, but before she was able to make her getaway, an SET News crew arrived and got her on videotape -- face included (I won't reproduce the image here) -- apparently tipped off by the so-called "medical professionals" who were supposed to be helping the woman.

In addition to demonstating dangerous behavior on the part of the patient, this situation also once again illustrates the complete lack of respect doctors have for their patients' right to privacy.
Stick the lamp up my ass! Plug it in! Turn it on!
Photo by SET News
Click image to enlarge

Don't let this happen to you! This has been a Public Service Announcement from Mondo Taiwan.
The May 8, 2001 print edition of the Chinese-language China Times devoted half a page to the topic of sinks. One article, titled "The Accidents Continue" (yi4 wai4 jie1 er2 lian2 san1), actually sheds some light on the subject. Some speculate that because the Taiwanese standard is to locate the sink between the bathtub and toilet -- compared with the American standard where the toilet is in the middle -- Taiwanese often use the sink to support their weight when stepping out of the bathtub. The reason for this setup may be (as stated on the Mondo Taiwan Architecture page) that Taiwanese don't use shower curtains. They get the whole bathroom wet and are afraid of slipping as they step out of the tub, so they need something to hold onto. Have you leaned on *your* substandard sink today?
Photo by SET News
No curtain, sink in the middle. 2 + 2 = ?
Click image to enlarge

This, however, only partially explains the situation. On the subject of "explosions," sink manufacturers have deemed this implausible, as the process of making a sink entails baking the materials at temperatures of between 1100 - 1200° C (2012 - 2192° F).

My own theory regarding the reports of explosions is that in the first such report, the child involved actually believed an explosion had occurred. The next time it happened to someone, that kid already had a convenient excuse provided by the news story. When a 30-year old man says his sink "exploded," however, I have a serious "V8 moment." Bai4 tuo1!
Hard disk inferno
Photo by Taipei Times
Burn, baby, burn!
Click image to enlarge
On Saturday, May 12, 2001 Typhoon Cimaron was making its way past Taiwan. In Taipei County's Hsichih Township -- infamous for flooding during typhoon weather -- irony was in full effect. A "record breaking" fire started at around 4:00 AM on the third floor of a 26-story complex of four buildings in the Orient Science Park. At 6:15 AM, the fire was thought to have been put out, but just 15 minutes later the blaze reappeared on the fourth, fifth, and seventh floors, somehow jumping past the sixth.

After the fire was thought to be under control (Really, we mean it this time!), it started once more on the building's sixteenth floor, apparently ignited by hot smoke which had moved up through the building's ventilation system, and burned all the way up to the twenty-fourth floor. 500 firefighters and 42 hours later, the fire was still burning, out of the reach of the area's highest hook and ladders. Anyway, at the time of this writing the fire may, in fact, still be smoldering.
Let's do some comparative analysis, shall we? After the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco, all 22 fires in the Marina district were put out within seven hours of the quake. This was possible because of something known as "foresight." After the 8.3 magnitude quake of 1906 which destroyed the water system and devastated the city with three days of fires which burned out of control, subterranean resevoirs were built atop the hills overlooking the city. This provided the pressure necessary to pump water even in the event of power outages. In the Hsichih case, it is said that the sprinkler system was "blocked," and that lack of power created by the blaze caused further failure of an already poor system. It's no wonder these things happen, but when will somebody try to fix the situation?

Much of the information was extracted from Chinese-language TV and print news over the past couple of days. For those who'd prefer English, two Taipei Times articles on this situation can be read here and here.
I got yer keys right HERE!
Photo by ET Today News
Size DOES matter.
Click image to enlarge
Monday, May 14, 2001 - In more news of bizarre sexual experiences, a man in Taichung City put some sort of metal ring around his penis in an attempt to relieve his boredom. After the ring had been there for three days, accumulated blood had swollen his organ to the point where he couldn't pull the ring off, and the pain was unbearable. What do you think he did next? K-Y Jelly? Nope. Cut the ring off? Negative. Seek medical assistance? That's a big 10-9, good buddy. He cut off his own dick just to "save face." OUCH!
Off with their heads! Shafts, too!
Photo by ET Today News
Would you like fries with that?
Click image to enlarge
Of course, he had to go to the doctor anyway when his son made the unpleasant discovery, and somehow this incident made its way to the TV news complete with a computer animated re-enactment of the "dick-ectomy" (right) and a picture of the actual penis on a tray (with the requisite mosaic filter) (left). He did it to save 'face'
Image by ET Today News
Modified by Mondo Taiwan
Don't try this at home!
Click image to enlarge

In the end, the old man got his pecker stitched back on in the manner of John Wayne Bobbitt. Maybe he'll get a job as a porn actor now, but they'll still have to use the mosaic on his "Franken-furter."
Wanna be on TV?
Photo by ET Today News
That 'full' feeling...
Click image to enlarge
Wednesday, May 16, 2001 - I didn't really think it would happen again so soon, but there's more up-the-butt news to be told. A man went to Kaohsiung's Veterans' Hospital complaining of stomach pain due to the large bottle of soy sauce that was stuck in his butt. Removal necessitated surgery, and the doctor who expounded on the man's plight spoke of the recent "rash" of such incidents saying that different personalities were inserting different items: mangoes, plastic bottles, baseball bats, etc., and that if you ever get such an "wedgie," you should seek medical help immediately (so you'll be on the TV news even more quickly?). Where I come from, it would be very illegal for the doctor to be on TV talking about my personal history. How about you?

Friday, May 18, 2001 - Today's news of unimaginable danger included 3 explosions (2 at chemical plants and 1 which involved natural gas). The chemical plant blast in Hsinchu left one person dead and about 110 others injured, 8 seriously. The second such blast, in Taichung County's Wujih Township seriously injured 3 people. The gas explosion occurred in a police dormitory, and at least one person attained second- and third-degree burns over 60 percent of his body. Read a Taipei Times article about the Hsinchu explosion here.

In addition to the above stories, a 22-year old Pingtung man got a wooden toothpick stuck in his esophagus. He had the habit of chewing on a toothpick after using it properly, but he "forgot" to remove it when taking a drink of water. Duh! His failure to do so required doctors to stick a camera down his throat along with another tool to grab hold of the toothpick and remove it. Gulp!

In ET Today News' segment entitled "More Weirdness" (guai4 shi4 duo1), a tube of lipstick was found in the bladder (!) of a 50-year old woman. Doctors think it could've accidentally made its way in during masturbation. Although a woman's urethra is very short, it's also pretty damn narrow. That couldn't have felt very good! This is one for Ripley's Believe It or Not! If you don't believe it, check out this Chinese-language RealPlayer video clip while it's still on the web. (FYI, "zai4 pang2 guang1 nei4" means "inside the bladder" and "zi4 wei4 zao4 cheng2 de0" means "occurred during masturbation.") [If anyone can save and e-mail me this file, I'd appreciate it.]

According to the same news segment, another woman put some toothpaste up her own butt in an attempt to relieve constipation. Perhaps she had read the enema story above and did it out of fear. Also mentioned was the story of a woman who endured her bleeding hemmorhoids for 18 years because, as she says, she was "too shy" to go to the doctor. No wonder! They put her on TV immediately after she did go. More unprofessional behavior from so-called professionals.
On Sunday, May 20, 2001, several emergencies, accidents, and injuries occurred across Taiwan. The following are just a few of those.

In Nantou County, the roof of a school gym collapsed killing one and injuring two. It was being rebuilt as a result of damage incurred during the 921 Earthquake, and the molds were removed before the concrete had dried completely.

In Kaohsiung, there was no typhoon, but winds were strong enough to knock a large window out of a high rise building. Fortunately, it only fell on 2 parked cars, but it could've just as easily fallen on human beings.

Six farmers were rescued from a sandbar in the Kaoping River where they had gotten trapped after the water rose too quickly during heavy rains. Farmers in Taiwan often use such locations for growing vegetables, and I'm sure this often gets them into trouble.

A person was hit by a train and killed in Kaohsiung while trying to walk across the railroad tracks in an area clearly marked as forbidden. In Chiayi, a car was demolished by a train and the driver killed. Rain is thought to be at least part of the reason for the collision.
Monday, May 21, 2001 - In today's up-da-butt news, a man in Ilan got something stuck in his ass, perhaps to give equal representation to that part of the island. This time, the foreign object was a cucumber. The doctor wanted to do surgery, but the patient ran off when he spotted news crews (cruise?!) arriving. What a surprise, eh?

Today I personally witnessed a man wearing slippers carting 3 big propane tanks and 2 small ones on the back of his motorcycle and simultaneously smoking a cigarette. He popped a wheelie as he took off before the light at this major intersection (Kung Yi and Wen Hsin Roads) had turned green, nearly crashing into the cars that were running the red light in the other direction.
Tuesday, May 22, 2001 - More than 30 students at Hukou Junior High School -- near the site of last Friday's chemical plant explosion in Hsinchu -- fell sick with dizziness and nausea today. Cleanup of the plant was being done on a rainy day with very little wind, and the concentration of chemicals in the air was reported to be 5 times higher than on the very day of the explosion.

A man in his twenties in Taipei County's Panchiao City was enjoying some porno sites on the Internet today, but that wasn't quite good enough. He was also busy inserting an electrical cord -- 130 centimeters in length, to be exact -- into his peepee hole. Wouldn't you know it, the durn thing got all tangled up inside his bladder, and he couldn't get it out. Of course, he had to go to the hospital to have it removed surgically, and just as predictably, some unethical asshole contacted the media right away.
Wednesday, May 30, 2001 - I haven't been watching the (ass) news too much recently, but today I personally witnessed an asshole riding a motorcycle -- in the rain -- talking on a cell phone while holding it on his left shoulder, driving against traffic, AND placing those little KTV advertisements (xiao3 mi4 feng1) on car windows with his left hand. Even though he was wearing what would legally pass for a helmet, he oughta be a little more careful. He could've dropped his cell phone!
Thursday, July 12, 2001 - In the latest stupid-way-to-die news, a 41-year old woman in Kaohsiung's "Venice Apartments" wanted to go to the basement of her building to check on her motorcycle. Why'd she wanna do that? Well, despite the classification of "Trami" as a tropical storm, it had flooded the hell out of Kaohsiung. In fact, the first floor of the building where this woman lived was underwater when she pushed the "B2" button in her elevator -- you, know, the one that takes you "two floors under" -- for the very last time. Ugh. Taiwanese sure do love their motorcycles.
Friday, August 17, 2001 - The mystery of the "exploding sinks" has finally made it to Taiwan's English media -- more than 3-1/2 months after Mondo Taiwan first brought it to the world. The Taipei Times reported the rash of such incidents today, finally offering an explanation in English that somewhat clarifies the problems caused by the language difference. Still, I think the cases are being misrepresented by the media, and a friend was surprised that the sink manufacturers haven't yet sued someone (the "victims" and/or the media) for slander when anyone with common sense knows that sinks don't just explode and fall off the wall.
Saturday, August 18, 2001 - Today marks 4 years since the Lincoln Mansions condominium collapsed during Typhoon Winnie, killing 28 people. Survivors of the disaster are still required to make mortgage payments on their former homes and are receiving very little help to overcome their hardships.

In lighter news, as I was riding in a taxi this evening, I personally witnessed someone on a motorcycle holding an I.V. bag overhead. I couldn't see where the tube went, but I imagined that it terminated at a hand holding a cellphone. A taxi ride earlier in the evening had its own dangerous moments. For no apparent reason, the driver crossed the double yellow line in the middle of the road and tried to pass the car in front of us. I quickly told him I wasn't in any particular hurry, so he let out a laugh and dropped back into the proper lane. I told him it wasn't funny and that he was very unprofessional. Most Taiwanese would fear the driver killing them with a watermelon knife for criticizing him than they would fear death or disfigurement caused by the potential car crash. "Ignorance is bliss," eh?
Mondo Taiwan suggests that you "look before you leap." Despite the humorous presentation of the material above, please consider all of the information a serious warning. Everything on this page is real -- either witnessed personally or taken from reliable news sources. I couldn't make this shit up if I tried! (There's more that I've heard which has "urban legend" written all over it, and despite the sensational qualities of such information, it will not be posted.)

Do yourself a favor. Don't do any of the same stupid things these people did, and don't provide me with new stories for this page. There are no awards for being mentioned here. Doing things worthy of mention on this page not only might embarrass and injure you. Your nonchalant attitude could one day kill somebody.

Please let us know if any information here is inaccurate or outdated.
If you have any suggestions, comments, complaints, or criticism,
send them to us, or wither away in complacency ! ! ! ! !

Check out these other recent additions to the Mondo Taiwan website:
Sounds of Taiwan
Spot the Difference
Translations of "Western" Movie Titles

How many times has this page been CRASHED INTO?

Quick navigation: | Top | Safety Fir--OUCH! | 7.6 Earthquake (9/21/1999) | Scaffolding Collapse (2/22/2000) | Pachang Creek Tragedy (7/22/2000) | Kaoping Bridge Collapse (8/27/2000) | Helicopter Crash (9/6/2000) | Singapore Airlines Crash (10/31/2000) | S&M Play Ends in Death (2/3/2001) | New uses for cell phones (2/13/2001) | Drunk Cops Don't Only Hit Other Cops (3/1/2001) | Taichung Train Derailment (3/12/2001) | Category 3A Nuclear Accident (3/18/2001) | Airbus Takes Flight -- Downward! (4/3/2001) | Careful with that bus, Eugene (4/15/2001) | Same freeway, fifth collapse (4/19/2001) | Urethral madness (4/21/2001) | That sinking feeling (5/1/2001) | Shut up and blow up your sink once more (5/7/2001) | Enema of the state (5/7/2001) | Fire on the bayou (5/13/2001) | John Bobbitt with a twist (5/14/2001) | Retentive madness (5/16/2001) | Blasts, insertions, swallowings (5/18/2001) | Like a day without sunshine? (5/20/2001) | When in a pickle, don't be fickle (5/21/2001) | Don't plug that in! (5/22/2001)