Search continues for missing in Taiwan earthquake; death toll reaches 40

World Today

A young girl is rescued from a collapsed building after an earthquake in Tainan, Taiwan, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. A powerful, shallow earthquake struck southern Taiwan before dawn Saturday. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

Taiwan authorities said there are still more than 100 people trapped in the collapsed building and the search continues for the missing. China’s President Xi Jinping also conveyed condolences on Sunday to the victims of the earthquake that struck southern Taiwan early Saturday.

The 6.7-magnitude quake hit Kaohsiung, Taiwan at 3:57 a.m., two days before the Chinese Spring Festival, At least 40 people are confirmed dead, but authorities say the death toll is likely be far greater. Among the 40 confirmed dead, were 14 are students. The youngest victim was a 10-day-old newborn, according to local authorities.

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Thirty-eight of the victims lost their lives when the Wei Guan building in Yongkang District of Tainan City collapsed. A woman and a man in their 40s were rescued Monday and sent to local hospitals for treatment. The man may have to receive amputations for his injuries.

Rescue operations are being carried out carefully to avoid damage to the building’s structure and cause a secondary collapse, a local fire department official said. Rescuers said they have identified several other signs of life inside the building and are searching through the rubble for more survivors.

Large machinery, including excavators, have not been used yet and will not be until the rescue operation has been deemed to enter the crucial phase.

The local meteorological department has so far registered 64 aftershocks.

“We’re deeply concerned about the disaster situation. We express deepest sympathies to Taiwan compatriots affected by the quake and convey condolences to victims,” Xi said in a statement.

“Compatriots across the Taiwan Strait are one family whose blood is thicker than water, and we would like to provide assistance in all aspects.”

The National Health and Family Planning Commission and the China Earthquake Administration said on Sunday that they are ready to send rescue and medical teams to the island. A civil rescue team from the mainland reached the earthquake-hit areas on Sunday.

The counties of Beichuan and Lushan in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, which dealt with a devastating earthquake in 2008, promised to donate one million yuan ($152,200) to the Taiwan Red Cross to aid victims in the Taiwan earthquake. Those counties received support from Taiwan immediately following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

Story by CCTV News