Taiwan earthquake: Officials investigate collapsed building

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Media caption,
A man emerged alive from the rubble after two days

An investigation has been launched into the construction of a Taiwanese apartment complex toppled by Saturday's earthquake.

Most of the 34 people now confirmed to have died had been inside the Weiguan Jinlong building in Tainan City.

Mayor William Lai said survivors had reported legal "violations" in the building, but gave no further details.

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

Nearly 500 people in total were injured, and a further 121 are still unaccounted for.

Media caption,
Drone footage showed one building felled by the earthquake

Two people, a male and a female trapped at different sides of the building, were reported to be talking to rescue workers.

Huang Kuang-wei, 20, was rescued early on Sunday, but a six-month-old baby girl pulled alive from the rubble a few hours later died in hospital.

The 17 storeys of the Weiguan Jinlong (Golden Dragon) apartment complex crumpled as the magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck just before 04:00 local time on Saturday (20:00 GMT Friday).

Census records suggest about 260 people were living there but it is now thought that more than 300 were inside at the time of the collapse, as some students renting rooms would not have been registered and people may have had guests staying to celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday beginning on Monday.

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

Image source, Reuters
Image source, EPA
Image source, Getty Images

Hundreds of soldiers are involved in the rescue effort, with the help of hi-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.

One woman at the site said her son had been found dead but she was hoping her daughter-in-law and two grandchildren would be rescued alive.

"I won't give up hope, I will wait here until I see them come out safe," she said.

Su Yi-ming, 48, who lived on the sixth floor of the complex, told AFP news agency that he was rescued after tapping on a wardrobe that was trapping him.

"I knocked on the closet to get the attention of rescuers who broke the window to get me," he said.

Image source, EPA
Image source, EPA
Image source, Reuters

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 away.

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

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