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Backpacker dies from carbon monoxide poisoning

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Carbon monoxide poisoning claimed the life of a Canadian backpacker yesterday, who was set to leave Taiwan later the same day. The accident also hospitalized five others in the same complex.

Elizabeth Eun-chung, according to ET today, was found dead on arrival in her rented room. The 35-year-old Canadian backpacker had checked into a daily rental apartment located at Yanji Street in Taipei on Dec. 28. Scheduled to check out of her room and depart the country, Chung was found dead when firefighters broke into her room after responding to an emergency call.

According to Apple Daily, the call was made by Li Lai-chuan (李來娟), the aunt of Cheng Pei-chi (鄭珮琪), who was visiting her three friends who rented the room next to Chung's. Cheng initially called her aunt, Li, after feeling nauseated. Upon arrival, Li found all four women sick and unconscious and notified the authorities. Affected herself, Li and the other four women were transported to nearby hospitals, where after further observation, all five women were released.

The incident was deemed an accident as a result of water heater misplacement, one of the main causes of accidental deaths in Taiwan. Unlike her fellow tenants, Chung's rented room was located next to the balcony where the water heater was placed. Though the balcony should have provided enough ventilation for the carbon monoxide, authorities found windows installed in the balcony which were shut, likely by one of the tenants due to cold weather. The set-up of the environment provided the worst case scenario for Chung, resulting in her being the sole casualty.

Further investigation into the misplacement of the water heater and illegal installation of the windows in a hazardous area exposed the two landlords as having conducted unlicensed construction. Due to the misconduct, authorities have held the co-owners responsible for the death and injuries of all six women. The landlords were placed into custody by the police and were later released after paying their NT$50,000 bail.

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The water heater which contributed to the death of a backpacker is seen in Taipei, yesterday. Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the major causes of death in Taiwan. Water heaters should be installed outside of houses and apartments in areas where proper ventilation is available.

(CNA)

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