Taiwan earthquake death toll rises to 12, rescue operations extended

World Today

A dozen people are confirmed dead after Tuesday’s earthquake in Taiwan. While the critical 72-hour ‘golden window’ to find survivors has passed, search-and-rescue operations have been extended for another 24 hours. CGTN’s Tony Cheng has more on the race to find survivors.

On Thursday evening, there was no let up in the search at the Yun Tsui building. Rescue workers continued pushing their way through the rubble.

From the apartments above, the body of the final victim – Melody, a Filippino maid – could be seen. But the focus was now on the hostel that had been crushed. Seven people remained buried inside, and those efforts were rewarded overnight.

“We found signs of life this morning, between 12 and 12:30, and now we have been drilling downwards from the 3rd floor,” Liang Guo-Wei, captain of the Taiwan Firefighting Agency said.

Access to the hostel has been a huge problem. The building is tilted at a 45 degree angle, and the floor is a slippery hazard the workers have to climb. Aftershocks could collapse the structure at any stage.

There was a certain amount of excitement after the authorities released the news that they heard sounds of life inside the building. Two ambulances were kept on standby.

Sadly, the miracle was not to be. The bodies of Peter and Frieda So were found in a final embrace on Friday afternoon.

But the search goes on. It’s been extended for another 24 hours in order to find a family of five from Beijing – three generations on vacation, still unaccounted for.

Elsewhere in Hualien, efforts are shifting from rescue to recovery.

“We must demolish these buildings right now,” said Fu Kun-Chi, a HUalien County Commissioner. “What we don’t want, is if there were to be another earthquake, it would cause irreversible damage to the buildings around them. So this is an extremely dangerous building which must be demolished now.”

The Marshall hotel, which was cleared two days ago, is now consigned for demolition. Heavy machines have already begun to tear down the walls of the forty-year-old landmark.