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Ma cancels New Year's Eve address after deadly quake

2016/02/07 17:43:19

President Ma Ying-jeou (left) visits the armed force stationed in Kinmen Sunday.

Taipei, Feb. 7 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) cancelled his annual New Year's Eve message Sunday in the wake of a powerful earthquake that hit southern Taiwan Saturday, killing at least 26 people and injuring hundreds, Presidential Office spokeswoman Ma Wei-kuo (馬瑋國) said.

Instead, the president will go to the Central Emergency Operation Center for an update of the rescue efforts being carried out in Tainan in the aftermath of the magnitude 6.4 earthquake, the spokeswoman said.

Update:
Earthquake damage can be prevented: president

Traditionally, the president would round up the government's work in the past year in addition to extending good wishes to the people on Chinese New Year's Eve. It would have been his last New Year's Eve address since he is due to step down in May after two four-year terms.

Rescue teams in the southern Taiwan city were racing Sunday to find dozens of people believed to be still trapped in the ruins of a 16-story residential complex, as the "golden rescue time" of 72 hours dwindled.

The earthquake, centered in Kaohsiung's Meinong District, struck at 3:57 a.m. Saturday, toppling 11 buildings, all in the neighboring Tainan City.

Twenty-four of the 26 people who died were residents of the Weiguan Jinlong Building, a block of 107 apartment units that housed about 300 residents in the city's Yongkang District.

As of Sunday afternoon, 149 people were reported as missing and the number of those injured had climbed to 484.

(By Evelyn Kao; click here for the full coverage of the earthquke aftermath.)
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