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Taiwan: Death toll from quake rises to 94

12th Feb 2016
Taiwan: Death toll from quake rises to 94

By Tevfik Durul

 

BEIJING, China, (AA) – Rescuers continued searching for a sixth day for dozens of people thought to still be missing in southern Taiwan after a weekend earthquake left at least 94 people dead.

National Fire Agency figures indicated Friday that 30 people were trapped in a 16-story building that collapsed in Tainan city where all but two of the fatalities were found, according to the official Central News Agency.

While no survivors from Saturday’s magnitude 6.4 tremor have been found since Monday, the death toll from the Weiguan Jinlong apartment complex in Yongkong district has continued to rise.

Earlier this week, police arrested three executives of a defunct construction firm that built the high-rise, after prosecutors sought their detention on charges of professional negligence resulting in death.

They were taken into custody to prevent collusion that could result in false testimonies.

The Taiwan-based China Post reported Friday that Tainan’s administration had begun efforts to seize assets belonging to the Weiguan company’s former chairman, Lin Ming-hui, to ensure he would be held accountable for any wrongdoing.

With rescue efforts ongoing for almost a week, the Central Weather Bureau has issued a heavy rainfall warning for southern Taiwan, forecasting conditions that could further hinder the search.

Premier Simon Chang ordered Wednesday that government agencies fly flags at half-mast in commemoration of the victims next Monday after the Lunar New Year holiday.

The declaration came as he visited survivors receiving treatment at National Cheng Kung University Hospital, CNA reported.

Among those he visited was Lee Tsung-tian, who was trapped for 56 hours before being rescued Monday.

Lee, part of whose left leg had to be amputated due to the death of muscle from lack of blood, lost his girlfriend and three relatives when the Weiguan Jinlong complex collapsed, while three others were reported missing.

Chang also announced that families of each victim would receive NT$1 million ($29,913) from the government in “condolence money”.

Around 10 buildings collapsed in Tainan after the predawn earthquake Saturday, and more than 540 people sustained injuries.

Meanwhile, Tainan’s Public Works Bureau revealed that 50 buildings were identified as dangerous Wednesday after authorities launched inspections when concerned residents filed around 200 requests.

Of the total, “red” labels were issued to 31 structures, which must be demolished or reinforced at once.

In 1999, Taiwan’s south and central regions were hit be a magnitude 7.3 earthquake that killed more than 2,400 people.

 

[Photo: Rescuers and heavy machinery are seen at the site of a collapsed building in Yongkang District of Tainan, on February 6, 2016 following a strong earthquake struck Taiwan. [Photographer: Steven Crook/AA]

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