More than 100 missing, 14 dead in Taiwan earthquake

TAINAN, Taiwan -- Rescuers were searching late Saturday for more than 100 people still missing after a powerful, shallow earthquake struck southern Taiwan before dawn, causing a high-rise residential building to collapse, killing at least 14 people and injuring hundreds.

See Full Article

Nearly 340 people were rescued from the rubble in Tainan, the city hit worst by the quake. About 2,000 firefighters and soldiers scrambled with ladders, cranes and other equipment to the ruins of the 17-floor residential building, which folded like an accordion onto its side after the quake struck.

  • Canadian citizens in Taiwan requiring emergency consular assistance should contact the Trade Office of Canada in Taipei at +886 (2) 8723-3000 or call the department’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre collect at +1 613 996 8885. An email can also be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Local authorities said Saturday night that more than 100 people remained missing and that rescuers were racing to find them. Taiwan's official Central News Agency reported that 172 people were missing.

The quake came two days before the start of Lunar New Year celebrations that mark the most important family holiday in the Chinese calendar. The building had 256 registered residents, but far more people could have been inside when it fell because the population might have swelled ahead of the holiday, when families typically host guests.

Local media said the building included a care centre for newborns and mothers, and a newborn was among those killed in the disaster.

Most people were asleep when the magnitude-6.4 earthquake hit at about 4 a.m., 22 miles (35 kilometres) southeast of Yujing. It struck only 6 miles (10 kilometres) underground, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Tainan resident Lin Bao-gui, a secondhand car salesman whose cars were smashed when the building collapsed across the street from him, said his house first started "shaking horizontally, then up and down, then a big shake right to left."

"I stayed in my bed but jumped up when I heard a big bang, which was the sound of the building falling," he said.

Rescuer Jian Zhengshun said the rescue work was difficult because part of the building was believed to be buried underground, with the quake loosening the earth. He said rescuers had to clear rubble for passages to reach people who were trapped.

Authorities in Tainan said that of the 14 people killed in the quake, 11 were found at the ruins of the fallen building.

Rescuers found the bodies of a 10-day-old infant, three other children and six adults at the collapsed building, Taiwan's emergency management information centre said. One other death was reported at the site, but details were not immediately available.

Authorities said two people were killed by falling objects elsewhere in Tainan. No details were available on the 14th death, reported Saturday night.

Rescuers pulled out at least 247 survivors from the collapsed building, the emergency management information centre said. Throughout Tainan, 334 people were rescued, the city government said.

The information centre said 477 people were injured, with 380 of them discharged from hospitals by Saturday evening.

The Taiwanese news website ET Today reported that a mother and daughter were among the survivors from the building, and that the girl drank her urine while waiting to be rescued, which happened sooner than expected.

Rescuers went apartment to apartment, drawing red circles near windows of apartments they already had searched.

"I went to the top floors of the middle part of the building, where we found five people, one of whom was in bed and already dead," said Liu Wen-bin, a rescuer from Taichung. "Some people were found in the shower, some in the bedroom."

Elsewhere in Tainan, dozens of other people were rescued or safely evacuated from damaged structures or buildings declared unsafe following the quake, including a market and a seven-floor building, authorities said. A bank building also careened, but no one was injured or trapped.

All told, nine buildings collapsed and five careened in Tainan, the emergency management information centre said.

As dawn broke, Taiwanese TV showed survivors being brought gingerly from the high-rise, including an elderly woman in a neck brace and others wrapped in blankets. The trappings of daily life -- a partially crushed air conditioner, pieces of a metal balcony, windows -- lay twisted in rubble.

People with their arms around firefighters were being helped from the building, and cranes were being used to search darkened parts of the structure for survivors.

Men in camouflage, apparently military personnel, marched into one area of collapse carrying large shovels.

The emergency management information centre said 1,236 rescuers from outside Tainan were deployed, including 840 from the army, along with six helicopters and 23 rescue dogs.

Tainan's municipal government said it mobilized nearly 600 professional and volunteer firefighters.

The quake was felt as a lengthy, rolling shake in the capital, Taipei, on the other side of the island. But Taipei was quiet, with no sense of emergency or obvious damage just before dawn.

Residents in mainland China also reported that the tremor was felt there. The Beijing government offered to help as needed.

Because of the spectacular fall of the residential high-rise, questions surfaced about whether the 1989 structure had shoddy construction. Tainan's government said the Wei Guan building was not listed as a dangerous structure before the quake, and Taiwan's interior minister, Chen Wei-zen, said an investigation would examine whether the developer had cut corners during construction.

Earthquakes frequently rattle Taiwan, but most are minor and cause little or no damage. However, a magnitude-7.6 quake in central Taiwan in 1999 killed more than 2,300 people.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Michigan House changes Nassar bills after legal settlement

    World News CTV News
    LANSING, Mich. -- The Michigan House on Tuesday scaled back legislation inspired by the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal, dropping certain measures addressed by last week's $500 million settlement between Michigan State University and hundreds of Nassar's victims and revising the time limits that survivors of childhood abuse would have to sue. Source
  • North Korean media return to angry tone as summit looms

    World News CBC News
    North Korean media stepped up their rhetorical attacks on South Korea and its joint military exercises with the United States, warning Tuesday that a budding detente could be in danger. State media unleashed three strongly worded commentaries slamming Seoul and Washington for the manoeuvres and demanding Seoul take action against defectors it claimed were sending anti-North Korea propaganda leaflets across the border. Source
  • Court boots 30-year-old son from parents' house

    World News CBC News
    An upstate New York judge Tuesday ordered a 30-year-old man to move out of his parents' house after they went to court to have him ejected. Michael Rotondo told the judge he knows his parents want him out of the split-level ranch they share. Source
  • Pilots push for shorter flight times as government finalizes new safety regulations

    Canada News CBC News
    When two Air Canada pilots mistook a San Francisco taxiway for a runway and almost crashed their plane into four fully-fuelled airliners awaiting takeoff last summer, they told investigators they were fatigued at the time. Being tired behind the controls of an aircraft is the number one safety concern pilots say they face on the job. Source
  • Sweden hands out brochure in case of 'crisis or war'

    World News CBC News
    Sweden is distributing an updated version of a Cold War-era civil emergency advice booklet to some 4.8 million households about what to do in the event of a crisis, including war. The 20-page brochure titled If Crisis or War Comes is about getting the country "better prepared" if public services have been debilitated by accidents, severe weather, IT attacks or "in the worst-case scenario, war," the Civil Contingencies Agency said. Source
  • Survivors of Quebec mass shootings plead for ban on assault weapons

    Canada News CBC News
    The president of the Quebec City mosque where six men were fatally shot in January 2017 travelled to Ottawa Tuesday to plead with the government to impose an outright ban on all semi-automatic and military-style weapons in Canada. Boufeldja Benabdallah appeared before the standing committee on public safety and national security, which is now reviewing C-71, a bill to amend the federal Firearms Act. Source
  • No Democrats allowed: Republicans invited to see documents on U.S. election probe

    World News CBC News
    Two Republican lawmakers, and no Democrats, are expected to attend a meeting scheduled for Thursday to review classified information relating to U.S. President Donald Trump's suggestion the FBI might have used an informant to gather information on his 2016 election campaign, the White House says. Source
  • Take the lid off the 'carbon tax cover-up,' Poilievre urges Liberals

    Canada News CBC News
    If the federal Liberal government truly believed in carbon taxing, it would come clean on the potential cost to Canadians, Conservative critic Pierre Poilievre charged Tuesday in a sneak preview of the protracted partisan barrage Finance Minister BIll Morneau was likely to face later in the day. Source
  • Commemorative coin of Trump and Kim Jong-un released as North Korea summit uncertain

    World News CBC News
    As U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledged there is a "very substantial chance" that his highly publicized summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will not go ahead as planned on June 12, a U.S. military agency has already unveiled a coin commemorating the "peace talks. Source
  • Canadian offshoot of U.S. libertarian campus group says it provides needed counterpoint to liberal bias

    Canada News CBC News
    Some U.S. academics are warning their Canadian counterparts to be wary of a U.S. libertarian group that has recently set up a chapter on the campus of Simon Fraser University, but its proponents say it provides a much-needed counterpoint to the increasingly liberal bias of academia. Source