Taiwan, Taipei: In early hours of Today, powerful earthquake in Taiwan felled a 16-storey apartment complex full of families who had gathered for Lunar New Year celebrations in the early hours of Saturday, with at least five dead and more than 30 feared trapped. Officials said there were 256 residents registered as living in the building, which contained 96 apartments.
The 6.4-magnitude quake struck in the middle of the night and as day dawned it revealed the destruction left behind in the city of Tainan, which bore the brunt of the damage. An entire residential complex containing almost 100 homes toppled to the ground, lying on its side with twisted metal girders exposed.
A 10-day old baby girl and a 40-year-old man were pulled dead from the building, National Fire Agency officials said, with reports that around 30 more were still trapped inside. A third woman died after being hit by a falling water tank at another site with no details immediately available of the other two deaths, the fire agency said.
Rescuers have freed more than 200 people from the Wei-kuan building, with over 40 of them hospitalised. Interior minister Chen Wei-jen said he feared there may be more people in the building than usual as family members would have returned to celebrate the Lunar New Year holidays next week. Chen said, “Exactly how many people were there when the quake hit was not immediately clear”. “We are concerned that most members of those families may have returned for the coming new year holiday.”