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Survivors Found in Taiwan Quake Rescue Effort

  • VOA News

In this image made from video, Lee Tsung-tien, 42, is attended to by rescue workers after he was pulled out conscious from a building which collapsed after an earthquake in Tainan, Taiwan, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016.

In this image made from video, Lee Tsung-tien, 42, is attended to by rescue workers after he was pulled out conscious from a building which collapsed after an earthquake in Tainan, Taiwan, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016.

Two survivors have been recovered from the rubble of a 17-story apartment building in the Taiwanese city of Tainan, two days after it collapsed during a powerful earthquake that left at least 36 people dead.

Authorities say a woman named Tsao Wei-ling was discovered lying under the body of her husband Monday morning. The body of the couple's two-year-old son was found lying nearby. Emergency workers are searching for five other members of the woman's family.

The other survivor was a man, identified as Li Tsung-tian, who Mayor Lai Ching-te said was conscious and talking to rescuers.

Liu Shih Chung, the deputy secretary general of Tainan's city government, tells VOA that over 300 people have been rescued from the wreckage, with about 100 others still missing. With 16 rescue teams from all across Taiwan responding to the disaster, and at least 500 experts on hand to provide advice, Liu says they are "entering into the most difficult part" of the rescue effort, as the 72-hour window to find any survivors quickly winds down.

WATCH: Video footage of people rescued from quake rubble

Rescuers, firefighters and volunteers are digging through the rubble using cranes, picks and their hands in hopes of finding signs of life, while medical staff and ambulances waited nearby.

Taiwan's official Central News Agency says nine buildings were destroyed in Saturday's pre-dawn 6.4 magnitude quake, all in Tainan city. Dozens of buildings were declared unsafe, forcing mass evacuations and the closure of markets, banks and other facilities.

Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau said there have been several aftershocks since the original quake.

The quake struck two days before the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations, the most important holiday in the Chinese calendar. Liu, the Tainan city official, says hotels are offering to house the earthquake victims for free for one week.

Social-media posts and news reports said Saturday’s jolt recalled a disastrous earthquake that killed thousands of people in September 1999. That quake, one of the strongest to hit Taiwan during the 20th century, had a magnitude of 7.7 - far stronger than Saturday’s event.

In addition to being a historic city, Tainan is also the base of operations for high-tech companies, including the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest contract chipmaker.

A spokeswoman at TSMC told Reuters that the quake damaged the company's facilities in Tainan. The company is a major supplier to global smartphone makers, including Apple.

The quake also caused widespread problems on Taiwan’s high-speed rail network, stranding many passengers in the north.

Quake-prone Taiwan is in a highly active seismic zone known as the "Pacific Ring of Fire," and more than 50 fault lines pass through the island.

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