Asia

Taiwan earthquake: Eight-year-old rescued after 60 hours

  • 8 February 2016
  • From the section Asia
Rescuers bring out an eight-year old girl survivor to waiting personnel after she was rescued from the rubble at the Wei-Kuan complex which collapsed in the 6.4 magnitude earthquake, in the southern Taiwanese city of Tainan on February 8, 2016. T Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rescuers pulled the girl from the rubble of the collapsed Wei-Kuan apartment complex

An eight-year-old girl has been pulled alive from the rubble of a building in Taiwan more than 60 hours after it was destroyed by an earthquake.

Rescuers in Tainan City freed three others on Monday, including the girl's aunt, as they raced to find more than 100 residents buried in the ruins.

At least 38 people died in the magnitude 6.4 earthquake on Saturday.

One of those rescued was a woman found lying underneath her husband's body. Their infant son was found dead nearby.

The woman, Tsao Wei-ling, was conscious and was taken to hospital.

Rescuers said it appeared her husband's body had protected her from a falling beam. Five of the couple's family members remain missing, Taiwan's government-run Central News Agency reported.

A man rescued on Monday had been talking to rescuers throughout the night. He was pulled free just before midday local time.

Media captionA survivor is rescued from a collapsed apartment block, two days after the earthquake

Officials said late on Sunday that 310 people had been rescued from the rubble of the building, with 100 of them taken to hospital.

A six-month-old baby girl pulled alive from the rubble died a few hours later in hospital.

The 17 storeys of the Weiguan Jinlong (Golden Dragon) apartment complex crumpled as the quake struck just before 04:00 local time on Saturday (20:00 GMT Friday), as Taiwan was beginning the lunar new year holiday

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The rescued man had been talking to rescuers through the night
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The man was conscious and rushed to hospital
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Almost all the people who died were inside the Weiguan Jinlong apartment complex

An investigation has been launched into whether the construction of the building contributed to its collapse.

Tainan City Mayor William Lai said survivors had reported legal "violations" in its construction but gave no further details.

Mr Lai said he had contacted judicial units and that prosecutors had formally launched an investigation into the construction of the apartment building.

"We've also commissioned three independent bodies to preserve evidence during the rescue so we can assist the residents if they want to file lawsuits in the future," he said.

"We will hold the builder responsible if they have broken the law."

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The earthquake was shallow, according US geographers, which would have amplified its effects

Hundreds of soldiers are involved in the rescue effort, with the help of high-tech equipment, sniffer dogs and cranes. Shelters are being set up for those who have lost their homes in the city of two million people.

President Ma Ying-jeou and President-elect Tsai Ing-wen, who won the election last month, attended a mass funeral for victims on Monday afternoon.

Ms Tsai said her government, which will be sworn in in May, will prioritise safety checks on old buildings.

Emergency officials said on Monday that at least 527 people had been injured.

Media captionDrone footage showed the building felled by the earthquake

Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and often sees tremors.

The quake was shallow, meaning its effects would have been amplified, the US Geological Survey said.

There were also at least five aftershocks. The quake was felt in the capital Taipei, 300km (186 miles) away.


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