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Taiwan rescuers search building for seven missing in earthquake

The official death toll stood at 10 on Friday, including three tourists from China and a 27-year-old Filipino employed as a household helper. Taiwan's National Fire Agency listed 273 people as injured.

By: AP | Taipei | Published: February 9, 2018 9:33 am
Taiwan rescuers search building for seven missing in earthquake Rescuers from Japan join the searching operation at an apartment building collapsed after a strong earthquake in Hualien County, eastern Taiwan, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. (AP photo)

Rescuers in eastern Taiwan were searching Friday for seven people missing in this week’s deadly earthquake that tilted a 12-story building on a 45-degree angle.

The seven are a couple from Hong Kong, who hold Canadian citizenship and five members of a family from China, including parents, grandparents and their 12-year-old son.

All are trapped in a hotel on the bottom floors of the Yunmen Tsuiti building, one of several damaged by the magnitude 6.4 temblor that struck Tuesday in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hualien County, whose economy is heavily dependent on tourism.

The official death toll stood at 10 on Friday, including three tourists from China and a 27-year-old Filipino employed as a household helper. Taiwan’s National Fire Agency listed 273 people as injured.

Hundreds of rescuers were on the scene, including a team from Japan deploying cutting-edge equipment to detect signs of life in the rubble of the lower floors that had almost entirely collapsed.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen visited Thursday with people sheltering in schools and other sites as a safeguard against repeated aftershocks.

Taiwan has frequent earthquakes due to its position along the “Ring of Fire”, the seismic faults encircling the Pacific Ocean. A quake two years ago collapsed an apartment complex in southern Taiwan, killing 115 people. Five people involved in constructing the complex were found guilty of negligence and given prison sentences.

A magnitude 7.6 quake in central Taiwan killed more than 2,300 people in 1999, Taiwan’s worst natural disaster in recent years.

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