Taiwan quake death toll at 116 as search ends

A mother holds a picture of her son after a male student body was recovered from the Weiguan complex which collapsed in the 6.4 magnitude earthquake, in the southern Taiwanese city of Tainan on February 10, 2016. Photo: AFP

Rescuers in Taiwan pulled out the remains of the final victims of last week's earthquake and with a minute of silence ended the search with the death toll of 116, most of them in a collapsed high-rise apartment building.

The 6.7-magnitude quake hit Kaohsiung city at a depth of 15 km at 3:57 a.m. last Saturday, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center. Local monitoring authority put the scale at 6.4-magnitude.

The city of Tainan bore the brunt of the quake, where 114 people died in the toppled U-shaped Weiguan Jinlong apartment building, from a 10-day-old baby to a 75-year-old woman.

Among the dead were a security guard, a mother-to-be, and the chair of the building's management committee -- the last body to be pulled from the rubble Saturday.

But it was the young who suffered most -- a third of the victims were under 25-years-old.

A total of 270 people in the building survived, including 95 who were evacuated and 175 who were pulled out from the rubble, according to the latest figures from Tainan's city authorities.

The building's developer, Lin Ming-hui, and two architects have been detained on suspicion of negligent homicide following accusations that Lin's company cut corners in the construction.

Public anger has grown as residents told how they had complained of defects in the building and images of the rubble showed concrete had been filled with foam and tin cans.

Earthquakes frequently strike Taiwan, but usually cause little or no damage, particularly since more stringent building regulations were introduced following a magnitude-7.6 quake in 1999 that killed more than 2,300 people.


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