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Taiwan: Death toll from Saturday's quake rises


Residents of Taiwan’s southern city, Tainan started their Lunar new year with news of an increase in the death toll from Saturday’s earthquake.

Although rescue workers on Monday pulled a woman out from the rubble of a collapsed building and another man was found alive trapped under the wreckage, Tainan’s Mayor told the media at least 33 people had died.

“There are still 117 victims trapped inside. 92 survivors have been sent to the hospital, unfortunately 33 died before reaching the hospital,” he said.

The death toll however increased to at least 38 by 4pm local time on Monday.

The magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck at 4am local time on Saturday February 6 at the start of the Lunar New Year holiday toppling a 17-storey building in Tainan.

Some residents have blamed the collapse of the building on the use of cooking oil cans as fillers inside some of the concrete beams.

Incoming Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Monday visited some survivors of Saturday’s quake at a hospital in Tainan.

She later told the media Taiwan needs to improve upon its preparedness to deal with disasters.

“We need to continue improving our preparedness, no matter whether it is shock-proofing (buildings) or taking any other measures that can prevent disasters. Another thing is, now that Taiwan is becoming a more advanced society, we need to have further and more extensive plans for urban renewal dealing with public infrastructure,” she said.

Some local residents however say they would be postponing their celebrations for the New Year until the rescue operations are over.

A local restaurant owner, Fang Yu-Hui told the Reuters news agency: “To be honest, we can still eat the new year’s dinner in a few days. We don’t have to eat the festive dinner (with family) today. We will first help other people and then have the dinner, it doesn’t matter.”

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