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Quake death toll climbs to 14; rescue work continues in Tainan

2016/02/06 22:17:15

●Feb. 9: Death toll rises to 40 in southern Taiwan earthquake

Taipei, Feb. 6 (CNA) Search and rescue efforts continued into the night in Tainan City, the area in southern Taiwan hardest hit Saturday by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake that killed at least 14 people.

Following four briefings by the Central Emergency Operation Center, Interior Minister Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁) said the search for missing people will continue throughout the night.

As of 9 p.m., the death toll had risen to 14 after two bodies were recovered from the 16-story Weiguan Jinlong residential building that collapsed during the quake.

According to the Central Emergency Operation Center, 12 of the deaths occurred in that building and 436 people throughout Tainan were injured in the disaster.

The Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, one of Taiwan's leading charity groups, has sent more than 1,000 volunteers to Tainan with blankets, scarves, bedding and hot food for survivors of the deadly earthquake that struck at 3:58 a.m. Saturday.

The foundation has set up a temporary headquarters close to the site of the Weiguan Jinlong building and has dispatched volunteers to 15 other locations in the city to distribute 2,000 hot meals to survivors who lost their homes.

Following a cold weather warning by the Central Weather Bureau, the foundation also rushed to supply emergency shelters with winter bedding and scarves.

During their visits to the shelters, the Tzu Chi volunteers have been trying to assess the needs of the survivors and have been donating money to them for basic purposes.

Taiwan's Red Cross Society, meanwhile, has mobilized more than 100 employees and volunteers to help with the relief work in Tainan, while the Red Cross societies in China and Macau have pledged NT$2 million Chinese yuan (US$303,030) and US$50,000 million, respectively, to the disaster effort.

At 4:10 p.m., a Taiwan Red Cross rescue team freed a little boy from the rubble of the Weiguan Jinlong building.

Apart from Tzu Chi and the Red Cross, hotel operators in Tainan have also provided urgent assistance, offering rooms free of charge to survivors.

Hotel Royal in Tainan has provided 10 rooms, allowing survivors to stay for free until Feb. 9. Shangri-La Tainan, Tayih Landis Hotel Tainan, and Dorm 1828 are also providing emergency shelter free of cost to people who lost their homes in the earthquake.

Meanwhile, local business groups and charities have been donating hundreds of millions of dollars to help speed up the relief efforts.

Their donations as of 9 p.m. Saturday had reached NT$800 million (US$23.88 million), with Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (鴻海) giving NT$100 million and YungLin Healthcare Foundation, which was founded by Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘), pledging another NT$100 million.

Another charity group, Lin Rung San Foundation of Culture and Social Welfare, said it will donate NT$100 million to the relief and recovery efforts.

As the rescue and recovery work continued, electricity supply had restored to most of 173,000 homes that suffered power outages, while 899 in Tainan were still without power, as of 5 p.m. Saturday.

Taiwan Power Co. (台電), the state-owned electricity supplier that operates three nuclear power plants in the country, said all three plants were functioning normally.

By Saturday evening, water had been restored to 150,000 of the 400,000 households in southern Taiwan that had lost their supply due to the earthquake.

Taiwan's high-speed rail service had also resumed regular service between Taipei and Chiayi but was still unable to provide service south of Chiayi.

Some 68,000 passengers were affected by the cancellations, while the company reported losses of about NT$56 million in ticket revenues.

It said a full assessment of damage and financial losses would be made later.

On Saturday afternoon, the Central Weather Bureau issued a low temperature warning for 21 cities and counties in Taiwan, including Tainan City.

Nighttime and early morning temperatures are expected to drop below 10 degrees Celsius for the next three days in western, northeastern and eastern parts of Taiwan proper as well as on the Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu islands as a cold wave moves in, according to the bureau.

In terms of structural damage, the Ministry of Education said 289 schools in southern Taiwan, mainly in Tainan and Kaohsiung, have been damaged by the quake and it estimated the cost at around NT$72.09 million.

The ministry also said an elementary school girl in Tainan died in the quake and seven other school children were injured.

In the agricultural sector, poultry farmers in Tainan and Kaohsiung suffered a total NT$10.19 million in losses, according to the Council of Agriculture.

It said however that no losses have been reported in the fishing and crop farming sectors in the two cities.

(By Frances Huang, Yuling Kao and Flor Wang; click here for the full coverage of the earthquke aftermath.)
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