More than 100 missing, 14 dead following strong quake
Up to late yesterday rescuers were still searching for more than 100 people still missing after a powerful, shallow earthquake struck southern Taiwan before dawn, causing a high-rise residential building to collapse and killing at least 14 people.
Nearly 340 people were rescued from the rubble in Tainan, the city hit worst by the quake. About 2,000 firefighters and soldiers scrambled with ladders, cranes and other equipment to the ruins of the 17-floor residential building, which folded like an accordion on to its side after the quake struck.
The spectacular fall of the building immediately raised questions about its construction, and Taiwan's interior minister said there would be an investigation.
Local authorities said last night that more than 100 people remained missing and that rescuers were racing to find them. Taiwan's official Central News Agency reported that 172 people were missing.
Rescuer Jian Zhengshun said the rescue work was difficult because part of the high-rise building was believed to be buried underground, with the quake loosening the earth. He said rescuers had to clear rubble for passages to reach people who were trapped.
Hundreds of people were injured in the quake, but most of them had been released from hospitals by last night.
The quake came two days before the start of Lunar New Year celebrations that mark the most important family holiday in the Chinese calendar.
The collapsed building had 256 registered residents, but far more people could have been inside when it fell because the population might have swelled ahead of the holiday, when families typically host guests.
Local media said the building included a care centre for newborns and mothers, and a newborn was among those confirmed dead in the disaster.