Taiwan natural disaster toll rises to 14 dead

Monday, 12 Feb, 2018

Search and rescue teams in Taiwan on Saturday pulled out two bodies of five members of a Chinese family who remain trapped after a 6.4-magnitude natural disaster hit the city of Hualien in Taiwan, raising the number of fatalities to 14, the Emergency Operation Centre said.

Thousands of emergency workers had combed through rubble at the foot of the 12-storey Yun Tsui apartment block since the quake struck the eastern city of Hualien late on Tuesday.

When rescue workers scrambled to search a partially collapsed multi-story building for missing residents feared trapped inside, Hsu Tang-yu (許棠育), from Taichung's Fengyuan showed up at the site on February 8, to greet rescuers with bowls of noodles from her mobile ramen cart.

Despite the difficulties, rescue operations would continue until all the members of the family are pulled out, Hualien Mayor Fu Kun-chi said. "I believe their relatives will receive proper assistance", Premier William Lai said while paying his respects to victims in Hualien on Sunday. Authorities believe up to 47 people may be trapped there.

Efforts are still being made to reach the room in the collapsed portion of the building where they were thought to be staying. Fourteen of the 17 people who were killed perished in the building.

It also damaged four buildings, three of which were demolished due to safety concerns.

Hualien, on Taiwan's picturesque east coast, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the quake-probe island.

Hsu said that as a victim of a magnitude 7.7 temblor that struck the central county of Nantou on September 21, 1999, killing more than 2,400 people, she knows what it is like to feel helpless and terrified during an quake.