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

  • South Korean military court convicts gay soldier over sex

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - A South Korean military court has sentenced an army captain to a suspended prison term for having sex with a fellow male soldier. Human rights groups have criticized the ruling as regressive, saying it further intimidates the country's already persecuted sexual minority groups. Source
  • Trump, Pope Francis to meet at Vatican

    World News CBC News
    Concluding his tour of the ancestral homes of the world's three largest monotheistic religions, U.S. President Donald Trump is poised to call on Pope Francis, the famously humble pontiff with whom he has publicly clashed. Trump, midway through his gruelling nine-day maiden international journey, will meet the pontiff at the Vatican early Wednesday where the two will have a private audience laden with religious symbolism and ancient protocol. Source
  • Trump set to meet Pope Francis

    World News CTV News
    ROME - Concluding his tour of the ancestral homes of the world's three largest monotheistic religions, U.S. President Donald Trump is poised to call on Pope Francis, the famously humble pontiff with whom he has publicly clashed. Source
  • Texas Senate rejects 'bathroom bill'

    World News CTV News
    AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Senate is planning to reject a House attempt to revive the transgender "bathroom bill" and seek a conference committee to reconcile differences in proposals that each chamber passed on the issue. Source
  • Police should have moved in earlier in Sydney cafe siege, coroner says

    World News CTV News
    SYDNEY, Australia - Police responding to a deadly hostage crisis in a Sydney cafe underestimated the gunman's threat and should have stormed the building earlier, rather than waiting to act until the gunman had killed a captive, a coroner said Wednesday after concluding a 2- 1/2 year inquiry. Source
  • Hardening 'soft targets' won’t stop terror attacks: experts

    World News CTV News
    Security officials around the world are scrambling to harden so-called “soft targets” -- plentiful and vulnerable civilian gathering sites like night clubs, outdoor festivals and outside stadiums -- in the wake of the latest deadly bombing attack. Source
  • Strong winds knock out power to 10s of thousands across B.C.

    Canada News CBC News
    A strong blast of cold windy weather has hit B.C. hard, resulting in power outages in communities far and wide across the province. As of 7:30 p.m. PT, there were over 50,000 customers without power, with significant outages in Prince George, Quesnel, Salmon Arm, Parksville, Pender Island, Oak Bay, Saanich, and throughout the Lower Mainland. Source
  • Families may boycott delayed MMIW inquiry as deadline approaches

    Canada News CTV News
    Families of missing and murdered indigenous women gathered on Parliament Hill Tuesday to voice their anger over the lack of progress in the inquiry. “We’re losing our loved ones even now,” said victim’s family member Jocelyn Wabano-Iahtail. Source
  • Manchester bomber identified as local man of Libyan descent

    World News CTV News
    MANCHESTER, England -- The man who police say blew himself up in a packed concert arena in Manchester, killing 22 people, did not make a strong impression on his neighbours. Residents of the Manchester suburb of modest brick semi-detached homes where 22-year-old Salman Abedi lived remembered seeing the tall, thin young man who often wore traditional Islamic dress. Source
  • Sickened, disgusted by Manchester terror attack, but not afraid

    World News Toronto Sun
    For some this would have been their very first concert, a ticket they’d received as a special Christmas gift or purchased with babysitting money they’d been saving for months. On social media, they and their fellow Arianators had been counting down the days until they would finally see Ariana Grande in concert. Source