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Rescuers free lucky few from earthquake rubble

2016/02/07 20:55:20

Taipei, Feb. 7 (CNA) "Yes! Thank you!" Huang Guang-wei (黃洸偉), 20, shouted when he was freed Sunday from the rubble of the 16-story Weiguan Jinlong building in Tainan to cheers from emergency teams and his family.

Huang had been trapped for some 30 hours since around 4 a.m. Saturday, when the residential complex toppled in a magnitude 6.4 earthquake that left 29 people dead as of Sunday afternoon.

Rescue workers had to cut though steel bars to get to Huang, who was eventually pulled out and taken to a hospital. He had several bruises but appeared to be in good condition otherwise.

Another man was also pulled from the rubble Sunday, after rescue workers heard him knocking on what used to be the 9th floor of the building.

Rescue teams at the site were forced to withdraw for two and a half hours Saturday night while a demolition team tried to break though one of the walls of the collapsed structure.

Rescue workers then crawled into a tight space inside the pile of twisted steel and concrete and inched toward the knocking sound.

"We will bring you out for Lunar New Year," they called to the victim. True to their word, the rescuers freed Chiu Kuo-hsiung (邱國雄), 32, at 9:52 a.m. Sunday and lowered him to the ground on a crane. The Chinese Lunar New Year begins Monday.

The first thing Chiu said after being rescued was that his girlfriend was still trapped inside the ruins and he implored his savers to find her.

Huang and Chiu were among the half a dozen people lucky enough to be found alive Sunday. Others were not so fortunate, however.

Communications were lost with an 11-year-old boy who was living in the B section of the building complex and had sent messages to his classmates via Line shortly after the earthquake.

Also the fate of four Kun Shan University students, three males and one female, remained unknown as rescuers have been unable to reach them in the G section of the building, which was lying at the bottom of the rubble.

Emergency workers fear that many of the dozens of people who remained trapped may not survive a second night in low temperatures without food or water.

(By Chao Li-yen, Chiang Chun-liang, Yang Ssu-jui and Lilian Wu; click here for the full coverage of the earthquke aftermath.)