Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Rescuers Pull Survivors From Quake Rubble

Published:Sunday | February 7, 2016 | 2:07 PM

TAINAN, Taiwan (AP)

As anxious families waited nearby, rescuers on yesterday painstakingly pulled more survivors from the remains of a high-rise apartment building that collapsed a day earlier in a powerful earthquake that shook southern Taiwan and killed at least 26 people. More than 100 remained buried in the building's rubble.

The government in Tainan, the worst-hit city, said that more than 170 people had been rescued from the 17-story building, which folded like an accordion after the quake struck.

Mao Yi-chen, 20, was rescued soon after the magnitude-6.4 quake hit before dawn on Saturday, and her older sister Mao Yi-hsuan was pulled out yesterday in serious condition. A rescue worker had handed over a photo album and homemade cards found next to her for her family to collect, said local official Wang Ding-yu.

"He said that 'maybe your home is damaged, but memories of the family can last,'" Wang said.

With the extended Lunar New Year holiday - the most important family holiday in the Chinese calendar - officially beginning today, celebrations were certain to be subdued in Taiwan. Both President Ma Ying-jeou and president-elect Tsai Ing-wen canceled the handing out of envelopes of cash in their hometowns, a holiday tradition for Taiwan's leader.

Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te said authorities estimated that 124 people were still trapped at the site of the collapsed building, many at the bottom of the wreckage. He said rescuers were able to reach many people by using information from residents who got out about the possible locations of those still inside.

Two of the trapped, a male and a female at different sides of the building, were talking to rescue workers yesterday evening, Lai said. He told reporters that rescuers intended to pull them out, and then bring in heavier excavators to remove part of the structure on top to allow access to the areas at the bottom.