Over 130 people trapped in Taiwan tower after 6.4 magnitude quake

Over 130 people wait for rescues in quake-hit Taiwan tower, says local government official

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Rescue personnel help a child rescued at the site where a 17-storey apartment building collapsed during an earthquake in Tainan, southern Taiwan, February 6, 2016.

A total of 132 people are still trapped beneath the rubble of a Taiwan apartment tower that collapsed in a powerful earthquake on Saturday morning, a local government official said on Sunday.

The total is much higher than authorities had first estimated when rescuers began combing the wreckage of the 17-storey building in the southern city of Tainan with sniffer dogs and acoustic equipment, looking for signs of life.

Rescue crews believed 29 of those still trapped could be reached more easily than the rest who were buried deeper in the rubble, said the official from the Tainan city government.

At least 23 people are known to have died in the 6.4 magnitude quake, which struck at about 4 am local time at the start of a Lunar New Year holiday, including 10 found in the collapsed block, according to the latest official death toll.

As the rescue effort entered its second day, in chilly conditions, Taiwan authorities raised questions over the quality of the construction of the tower, built in the early 1990s.

Liu Shih-chung, Tainan city government deputy secretary general, said television footage of the ruins of the commercial-residential building suggested the possibility of structural problems related to poor-quality reinforced steel and cement.

However, city officials have said it is too early to say for certain if poor construction was a factor in the collapse.

TRTWorld, Reuters