Strong Taiwan Quake Topples Buildings; at Least 13 Killed, 100 Still Missing

Many more remain trapped in rubble of buildings that have collapsed due to 6.4-magnitude earthquake in southern Taiwanese city of Tainan.

Wally Santana
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Rescue workers remove the body of a victim after the collapse of a 17-story apartment building during an earthquake in Tainan, Taiwan, February 6, 2016.
Rescue workers remove the body of a victim after the collapse of a 17-story apartment building during an earthquake in Tainan, Taiwan, February 6, 2016.Credit: Reuters
Wally Santana

AP - Authorities in southern Taiwan say more than 100 people are still missing after a strong earthquake caused a high-rise residential building to collapse.

Rescuers in the southern Taiwanese city of Tainan pulled out 230 people and 13 dead from the complex that collapsed when a shallow 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck before dawn Saturday, leaving still others trapped inside.

Firefighters and soldiers scrambled with ladders, cranes and other equipment to the two towers that folded like an accordion in a pile of rubble and twisted metal and extracted dazed survivors.

Taiwan's Emergency Management Information center says that nine of the victims were found at a residential high-rise building that collapsed in the quake Saturday, and that the two others were killed by falling objects elsewhere in the city of Tainan.

Authorities say 475 people were injured, but 368 of them were discharged from hospitals by late Saturday afternoon.

Rescue workers remove a baby from the site where a 17-storey apartment building collapsed after an earthquake hit Tainan, February 6, 2016.Credit: Reuters

Nearly 380 people are reported as injured, with 26 still unaccounted for.

Taiwan's official news agency said 256 people were believed to be living in 92 households in the Wei Guan residential building. A second 16-story high-rise also collapsed in the same way and fell on its side, and more than 30 survivors have been pulled out from there.

Dozens more people have been rescued or safely evacuated from a market and a seven-floor building that was badly damaged, the Central News Agency reported.

A bank building also careened, but no injuries were reported, it said.

Facebook has activated its "safety check" feature for Taiwan that allows users to let their friends and loved ones know they're safe.

China has offered assistance to Taiwan following the quake. According to China's office handling relations with Taiwan, mainland officials have been in touch with their Taiwanese counterparts since shortly after the quake hit the southern city of Tainan.

China sent a letter offering rescue assistance if needed, and expressed condolences to those who suffered in the quake.

Lengthy, rolling shake

Rescue personnel work at a damaged building after an earthquake in Tainan, southern Taiwan, February 6, 2016. Credit: Reuters

Most people were caught asleep when temblor struck about 4 A.M. local time (2000 GMT Friday). It was located some 22 miles (36 kilometers) southeast of Yujing, and struck about 6 miles (10 kilometers) underground, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

As dawn broke, live 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. Newscasters said other areas of the city were still being canvassed for possible damage.

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

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.

Earthquakes frequently rattle Taiwan, but most are minor and cause little or no damage.

However, a magnitude-7.6 earthquake in central Taiwan in 1999 killed more than 2,300 people.

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