Rescuers today painstaking pulled out more survivors from the remains of a high-rise residential building that collapsed in a powerful, shallow earthquake in southern Taiwan, which killed at least 24 people, as families anxiously waited on site.
The emergency center in Tainan, the worst-hit city, said that 171 people had been rescued from the building following the magnitude-6.4 quake that struck at dawn yesterday.
Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te said in interviews from the site of the building collapse that there was an estimated 124 still trapped, many at the bottom of the wreckage.
Lai said that they had been able to rescue many people by using information from residents who got out on the possible locations of those still inside.
Eighth-floor resident Huang Guang-wei was pulled out today morning from a different section from where he lived, showing how distorted the building is, Lai said. Rescuers could see Huang only through a 10-centimeter (4-inch) crack and it took eight hours to get him out, Lai said.
Also rescued from the rubble was Chiu Guo-hsiung, 32, who was able to tell rescuers his name and other information. A woman and a 6-month-old baby girl were pulled out and rushed to a hospital.
A man in his 60s, whose son escaped and whose daughter-in-law was in serious condition in a hospital, was trying to help rescuers pinpoint his grandsons.
“My 11- and 12-year-old grandsons are still inside on the ninth floor,” said the man, who only gave his surname, Huang.
“I told my son not to buy an apartment here; it was suspiciously cheap.”
Beside him, another man nodded in agreement as he waited for news of his own relatives on the seventh floor.
The city government said that 22 of the 24 confirmed deaths were from the building collapse. They said that 171 had been rescued from the building, 90 of whom were sent to a hospital.
More than 100 people were rescued from other parts of the city, eight of whom received hospital treatment.
The spectacular fall of the 17-story high-rise immediately raised questions about its construction, and Taiwan’s interior minister said there would be an investigation. Nine other buildings in the city collapsed and five careened.
Today, thousands of rescuers in red, orange, yellow and black uniforms worked on different levels of the folded building that was supported by steel pillars.