Tainan | Rescuers today found signs of life within the remains of a high-rise residential building that collapsed in a powerful, shallow earthquake in southern Taiwan that killed at least 19 people and injured hundreds, as families anxiously waited on site. The emergency centre in Tainan, the worst-hit city, said today that it did not have an estimation of how many people were missing in the magnitude-6.4 quake that struck at dawn yesterday. It has previously offered vastly differing numbers of how many people were unaccounted for, including as many as 132.
Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te said in television interviews from the site of the building collapse that life detecting equipment had found signs of life from at least 29 trapped people. Later, a man in his early 30s was pulled out from the rubble and able to tell rescuers his name and other information. 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 emergency centre and the city government said that 17 of the 19 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. Another 104 people were rescued from other parts of the city, seven of whom received hospital treatment.
The rescued figures were lower than the city government had reported yesterday, and there was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy. 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. Thousands of rescuers in red, orange, yellow and black uniforms today worked on different levels of the folded building that was supported by steel pillars.