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BEIJING (AA) – The death toll from an earthquake that hit southern Taiwan rose to 26 late Saturday afternoon, as rescuers continued searching for around 120 people missing for over 36 hours in hardest-hit Tainan city.
The official Central News Agency (CNA) reported 24 of those confirmed dead had been residents of a 16-story building in Yongkang District, which housed almost 300 apartments, that collapsed in the magnitude 6.4 tremor.
Around nine structures had toppled in the pre-dawn earthquake, while hundreds of people have been rescued.
Among those unaccounted for are four college students, thought to be among those trapped in the Weiguan Jinlong compound.
Search teams rescued three people – including a young boy and his father – from the site early Sunday morning.
CNA quoted Tainan’s mayor, Lai Ching-te, as saying that most of those still missing were trapped in lower stories, hindering rescue teams’ ability to access them.
Of the more than 420 people who had been hospitalized, only 98 of the injured remain under treatment.
The National Fire Agency had revealed Saturday that the fatalities included two people in Gueiren District, where a 56-year-old woman was killed by a toppled water tower and a 40-year-old man was found in a partly collapsed structure.
Residents in Taiwan’s south and central regions had recalled experiencing tremors resembling those felt in a magnitude 7.3 earthquake in 1999 that killed more than 2,400 people.
Facebook has activated its Safety Check feature so people impacted by the earthquake can notify their friends and family about their condition.
Interior Minister Chen Wei-zen told a press conference Saturday that authorities would conduct an investigation into the 16-story building, whose construction had been completed in Nov. 1994.
According to the Central Weather Bureau, the epicenter of Saturday’s earthquake was located at a depth of 17 kilometers (10.6 miles) in neighboring Kaohsiung City’s Meinong District.
It reported that the most powerful tremors, which registered 6 on a seismic scale of 7, had even been felt in Yunlin County, around an hour’s drive to the north of Tainan.
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