Three dead after 6.4-magnitude quake topples 17-storey building in Taiwan
TAIPEI (REUTERS) – Three people, including a 10-month-old baby, have died after a 17-storey residential building collapsed in the southern Taiwanese city of Tainan following a strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake Saturday (Feb 6). The baby, a man and a woman were pulled dead from the block,
"These three people showed no signs of life before they were sent to the hospital, said Lin Kuan-cheng, spokesman for the National Fire Agency, as rescuers battled to free residents still trapped inside. "The search and rescue work continues there, home by home."
Officials said four buildings collapsed in the quake which struck the island in the early hours of the morning, but rescue efforts are centring on the tower block that tumbled onto its side. Firefighters pulled survivors from the twisted concrete, trying to access apartments through windows and scaling the rubble with ladders. More than 100 residents have now been freed from the rubble, with local media reporting the tower contained more than 200 homes.
Officials were unable to give an estimate of how many were still trapped as they scoured the building. At least 30 people have been freed from another residential seven-storey building with reports that over 200 have been rescued across the city and more than 100 sent to hospital. One woman told how she had fought her way out of her home in one of the collapsed blocks.
"I used a hammer to break the door of my home which was twisted and locked, and managed to climb out," she told local channel SET TV, weeping as she spoke.
At least five aftershocks of 3.8-magnitude or more shook Tainan about half an hour after the initial quake, according to Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau.
Taiwan's Formosa TV showed images of police, firefighters and some troops in camouflage uniforms at the site of a collapsed residential building and said its reporters could hear the cries of some residents trapped inside.
Still no specific reports about damages and possible victims #Tainan, but news of multiple collapsed buildings! http://m.appledaily.com.tw/realtimenews/article/new/20160206/791484 …— Hinrich Homann (何欣熹） (@Hinrich_77)
The firefighters were hosing down part of the building to prevent a fire, while others used ladders and a crane to enter the upper floors.
The building appeared to have collapsed onto the first story where a child's clothes were visible fluttering on a laundry line.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the latest quake, struck at 2000 GMT (4 am Singapore) on Friday (Feb 5) at a magnitude of 6.4, centred 43 km south-east of Tainan, a city of nearly two million people.
The quake was very shallow, at depth of 10 km, which would have amplified its effects, the USGS said. Tainan lies 39 kilometres northeast of Kaohsiung, the second-largest city on the island and an important port. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami was not expected.
Taiwan lies in the seismically active "Pacific Ring of Fire" zone and it was struck by a magnitude 7.7 quake in September 1999 which killed more than 2,400 people. A strong 6.3-magnitude quake that hit central Taiwan in June 2013 killed four people and caused widespread landslides.
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