Death toll reaches 38 in Taiwan earthquake

More than 100 people are missing two days after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake killed at least 38 in southern Taiwan, while three people were rescued alive, authorities said Monday.

Li Zong-dian, who was found by search teams on Sunday, was rescued Monday morning after being trapped for 55 hours, the state-run Central News Agency reported.

Li was immediately sent to hospital to have his lower left leg amputated.

"Mr Li was found under steel beams. When I talked to Mr Li, he remained conscious," Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te told reporters.

A woman, Tsao Wei-ling, was also rescued Monday morning, and an 8-year-old girl surnamed Lin was rescued in the afternoon, SET TV reported. 

More than 530 people were injured in Tainan City during the quake and more than 100 people are still missing, according to figures from the Central Emergency Operation Centre.

The quake struck southern Taiwan at 3:57 am Saturday (1957 GMT Friday).

Most of the missing were in a 17-storey apartment building that collapsed in the city's Yungkang district.

Search efforts continued at the site Monday, but rescue crews had difficulty reaching people trapped inside, local media reported.

Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te said the death toll could exceed 100 as many people remained trapped in the collapsed building, CNA reported.

President-elect Tsai Ing-wen, who will be sworn in on May 20, visited some of the injured on Monday, the first day of the new lunar year.

"This has been a very sombre Lunar New Year," Tsai was quoted as saying by CNA.

Tsai said the future government’s priorities include reviewing the safety of buildings nationwide and coming up with urban renewal projects.

Authorities suspect shoddy construction could explain why the building did not withstand the earthquake, and they have launched an investigation.

In September 1999, Taiwan was hit by a magnitude-7.3 earthquake, which left more than 2,400 people dead.

Last update: Mon, 08/02/2016 - 11:46
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