Taiwan earthquake death toll rises to 59; 76 still missing

TAINAN, Taiwan - The death toll from a weekend earthquake in Taiwan rose to 59 on Thursday, with 76 people still missing and presumed trapped under the rubble of a collapsed residential building, the Ministry of Interior said.

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The 16-storey Weiguan Golden Dragon complex was the only building to collapse during Saturday's magnitude-6.4 earthquake, which otherwise caused limited damage in the southern city of Tainan.

Government prosecutors have detained three construction company executives on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in death amid accusations that the structure, built in 1989, was not properly reinforced.

A total of 327 people in the building survived. Rescuers say the chances of finding more survivors are now slim.

Earthquakes frequently strike Taiwan but usually cause little or no damage, particularly since more stringent building regulations were introduced following a magnitude-7.6 quake in 1999 that killed more than 2,300.

Saturday's quake cut power lines and water mains in Tainan but only two deaths were reported outside the Weiguan apartment complex.



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