Taiwan quake: Rescue work continues as difficulty increases

Taiwan quake: Rescue work continues as difficulty increases
Rescue workers look for possible victims within the remains of an apartment in one of the top floors of the Wei-Kuan complex,
PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Rescue personnel and firefighters are continuing the search for survivors of Saturday morning's earthquake, with as many as 94 people still unaccounted for.

According to figures released by the Tainan City Government on Wednesday afternoon, the death toll had climbed to 46. The collapse of the 16-story Weiguan apartment complex was the biggest source of casualties and had claimed a total of 44 lives.

No survivors have been found since Monday.

Three bodies with no signs of life were found on Tuesday, and another five had been discovered as of Wednesday evening.

At around 9 a.m. Wednesday, the bodies of one man and one woman were found on the seventh floor of Block H. According to reports, they were a married couple named Tsai Min-chou and Lee Hsin-hsuan.

"I have cried so much (since Saturday) that I don't have any more tears," said Tsai's father, vowing he would take care of his grandson, according to local media.

Between 10:04 a.m. and 11 a.m., rescuers uncovered the bodies of a young man and woman on the fifteenth floor of Block G. Reports said the two, Tsai Meng-chia and Huang Jo-hsin, were a couple and both students at Kun Shan University.

The two were found trapped under a heavy slab of cement, said rescuers.

They were locked in an embrace; local media speculated that Tsai was attempting to protect Huang.

At around 12:50 p.m., rescuers reported that they had found the body of a woman on the fourteenth floor of Block H. The woman has yet to be identified, but is suspected to be Wu Jun-chai.

A person in Block F who knocked on a wall to respond to rescuers attracted media attention, however, the person is no longer making the same knocking responses, said Tainan City Mayor Lai Ching-te on Wednesday morning.

Onlookers Keep Away from Site: Rescuers

Rescuers called for curious onlookers to stay away from the rescue sites near the collapsed Weiguan building, explaining that the public had hampered rescue efforts, including engineers, reporters and government officials who had flocked to the scene.

"Please don't go and watch. It will only make their jobs more difficult," said a rescuer, surnamed Yang, on his Facebook page.

The Republic of China flag will be flown at half-mast across the country on Feb. 15, the first day of returning to work after the Lunar New Year, to mourn the deaths and injuries caused by the earthquake, said Premier Simon Chang.

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