Final earthquake victim recovered from apartment identified

Final earthquake victim recovered from apartment identified

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The identity of the last victim recovered from the Weiguan Golden Dragon apartment complex was confirmed late on Wednesday. A total of 114 of the 116 victims of the magnitude 6.4 Feb. 6 Kaohsiung Meinong earthquake were found at the complex.

The identity of the Indonesian national, a domestic worker, was confirmed by Indonesian representative office officials.

Tainan City Mayor Lai Ching-te confirmed that a combined funeral service for all victims of the quake would be held on Feb. 27. Other large-scale ceremonies will also be arranged on Feb. 25 and 26. Lai paid his respects to victims on Thursday and thanked workers involved in the rebuilding effort.

Lai stated that the municipality would foot the bill for soil liquefaction and other tests to determine the structural integrity of buildings, but that private owners would need to pay for rebuilding, structural adjustments and other construction costs. The government is making reconstruction loans of NT$3.5 million available (S$148,000), while offering loans up to NT$1.5 million for structural repairs.

Interest rates for both loan types mentioned above have been lowered to 0.702 per cent. For residents obtaining loans for reconstruction of their homes, repayment deadlines of 20 years have been affixed (payment on interest only is limited to five years. For repair, loans must be repaid within 15 years (with payment on interest only limited to three years).

As the clearing of the remains of the apartment complex continued, excavators happened upon NT$100,000 in cash wrapped in clothing. City residents had affixed yellow ribbons on the remains of a water main that was crushed by the building's collapse in memory of the victims. As of Wednesday, 107 residents had been evacuated to 13 separate shelters within the city.

According to statistics provided by the Interior Ministry, 61 of the victims in the Weiguan building were male, 53 were female. Another man and woman lost their lives due to falling debris in separate locations in the Guiren District of Tainan.

Among the 116 dead were 39 students, 16 of whom were attending primary school. A total of 481 schools and universities experienced structural damage following the quake. Damage estimates on the affected institutions of learning are placed at NT$273.9 million.

Losses to agricultural and livestock facilities were estimated at NT$170.73 million.

The earthquake was the deadliest on the island since a magnitude 7.6 tremor struck on Sept. 21, 1999 (known as the 921 earthquake) killing 2,415.

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