Rescuers search for missing after powerful earthquake strikes Taiwan

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 and killing at least 14 people.

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..

The spectacular fall of the building immediately raised questions about its construction, and Taiwan's interior minister said there would be an investigation.

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.

Rescuer Jian Zhengshun said the rescue work was difficult because part of the high-rise 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.

Hundreds of people were injured in the quake, but most of them had been released from hospitals by Saturday night.

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 collapsed 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 confirmed dead 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. Shallow earthquakes generally cause more damage than deeper ones.

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.

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 collapse of the residential high-rise, questions surfaced about whether the 1989 structure had shoddy construction. Tainan's government said the 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

  • Anti-racism demonstrators overshadow planned alt-right rally at Vancouver City Hall [Video]

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Protesters demonstrating against racism and Islamophobia began gathering at noon near Vancouver City Hall, well in advance of a planned anti-immigration rally at the same site. The protesters planned to make their voices heard ahead of an "anti-Islam" rally, organized by a group spreading white-supremacist messages online, that was set to begin outside city hall at 2 p.m. Source
  • Researchers discover WWII-era USS Indianapolis wreckage

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — Civilian researchers say they have located the wreck of the USS Indianapolis, the World War II heavy cruiser that played a critical role in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima before being struck by Japanese torpedoes. Source
  • Small plane crashes near solar eclipse viewing party in Oregon leaving 2 dead

    World News Toronto Sun
    MADRAS, Ore. — Authorities say two people died in a small plane crash near a central Oregon airport where people are gathering to view the solar eclipse. The Central Oregon Emergency Information Network says the pilot and a passenger were killed in the crash about 2 p.m. Source
  • Demonstration against Boston 'free speech rally' ends in more than two dozen arrests [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    BOSTON — Conservative activists and leftist counterprotesters prepared for a confrontation on Boston Common that could draw thousands a week after a demonstration in Virginia turned deadly. Police Commissioner William Evans said Friday that 500 officers — some in uniform, others undercover — would be deployed to keep the two groups apart on Saturday. Source
  • Two children and man killed after van collides with semi in Manitoba

    Canada News CTV News
    PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, Man. -- A man and two children are dead after the minivan they were in collided with a semi in Manitoba. RCMP say the van was heading east on the Trans-Canada Highway on Saturday afternoon and collided with the westbound semi while attempting to turn north onto Highway 16 west of Portage la Prairie. Source
  • Anti-racism demonstrators clash with alt-right rally at Vancouver City Hall [Video]

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Protesters demonstrating against racism and Islamophobia began gathering at noon near Vancouver City Hall, well in advance of a planned anti-immigration rally at the same site. The protesters planned to make their voices heard ahead of an "anti-Islam" rally, organized by a group spreading white-supremacist messages online, that was set to begin outside city hall at 2 p.m. Source
  • Wind fans B.C. wildfires, but growth of two largest blazes is limited

    Canada News CTV News
    WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C. -- Two of British Columbia's biggest wildfires haven't grown much over the past few days despite being fanned by strong winds. Kevin Skrepnek of the BC Wildfire Service says the winds arrived in the province on Friday as forecast but weren't as strong as feared. Source
  • Knife-wielding man stabs seven in Siberian city of Surgut as ISIS claim disputed

    World News Toronto Sun
    MOSCOW — A knife-wielding man went on a stabbing rampage Saturday in a Siberian city, wounding seven people before police shot and killed him. The Islamic State’s Aamaq news agency hours later claimed the attacker was “an Islamic State soldier. Source
  • Duke University removes damaged Robert E. Lee statue

    World News CTV News
    DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke University removed a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee early Saturday after it was vandalized amid a national debate about monuments to the Confederacy. The university said it removed the carved limestone likeness before dawn from the entryway to Duke Chapel, where it stood among 10 historical figures. Source
  • Saskatchewan Party to vote for new leader January 27 following Brad Wall retirement

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    REGINA — The Saskatchewan Party will choose a new leader to replace Premier Brad Wall on January 27, saying the successor will be decided through a one-member, one vote system at a convention in Saskatoon. “The Saskatchewan Party looks forward to a robust campaign, with many leadership candidates entering the race,” Saskatchewan Party president James Thorsteinson said in a news release following a meeting of the party’s provincial council in Regina. Source