Death toll from Taiwan earthquake rises to 61

Death toll from Taiwan earthquake climbs to 61 as six more bodies have been recovered at 17-story apartment building which collapsed

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A woman cries while waiting for her relatives who are inside a 17-storey apartment building which collapsed after an earthquake hit Tainan, southern Taiwan, February 7, 2016

Bodies of six more victims were recovered on Thursday by rescuers in Taiwan, bringing up the death toll from the 6.7 magnitude earthquake to 61 with 63 still missing, an official said.

A 17- story apartment collapsed in the city of Tainan due to the powerful earthquake, which local monitoring authorities said was a 6.7 magnitude.

According to the local meteorological department, heavy rain is going to hit Tainan, so rescuers are speeding up their search and rescue operations which have been on going for nearly 130 hours.

Since rescuers used single-tooth ripping machines instead of excavators, some people are worried about the speed of the rescue operation, and Tainan Mayor William Lai responded to that concern on Thursday.

He said the main reason why rescue teams were using single-tooth ripping tool to tackle the debris instead of using excavators to dig was to protect any possible life that can still be saved.

A 17-storey apartment building which collapsed after an earthquake is seen during sunset in Tainan, southern Taiwan, February 8, 2016

“If life is already gone, we still want to protect the entirety of the body. That's our purpose," said Lai.

Taiwan lies in the seismically active "Pacific Ring of Fire." Local TV quoted Tainan residents as saying the quake felt worse than the 1999 tremor that hit central Taiwan.

The developer of the collapsed building, Lin Minghui and two other men working for the construction company have been taken into the custody as they are being accused of negligent homicide. Tainan court said two men knew that the building was not strong enough to withstand an earthquake.

Sources  said the Weiguan building was built more than 20 years ago, with the age determination of default of the developer being the key for the prosecutors and the defendant, and the criminal responsibility for the professional negligence that caused deaths would be no more than five years.


TRTWorld and agencies