TAIPEI – Search and rescue teams in Taiwan pulled out on Saturday two bodies of five members of a Chinese family who remain trapped after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit the city of Hualien in Taiwan, raising the number of fatalities to 14, the Emergency Operation Center said.
The rescue mission to free the family that was staying at the Meilun Hotel, part of the Yun Men Tsui Ti building, has been hindered due to severe damage caused to the building, bad weather, and continuous aftershocks.
The rescue teams struggled to gain access to the room where the family has been trapped for over 80 hours since Tuesday’s quake.
The Hualien fire department’s rescue team leader said there were no signs of life, adding that the situation was not hopeful as severe conditions were making it hard to reach the bodies.
Despite the difficulties, rescue operations would continue until all the members of the family are pulled out, Hualien Mayor Fu Kun-chi said.
Relatives of those trapped, accompanied by Yu Fengying, Deputy Director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the Beijing Municipal Government, arrived in Taiwan on Saturday and were scheduled to go to Hualien on Sunday.
The earthquake, followed by hundreds of aftershocks, including one measuring 5.7 magnitude, has left at least 14 people dead, including 10 staying at the Meilun Hotel.
280 people were injured and more than 800 were evacuated.
The quake also severely damaged four buildings, three of which have already been demolished due to safety concerns.
A total of 727 victims have taken refuge in shelters, while 7,100 households in the city of Hualien remain without water and 195 schools buildings have sustained damage.
The aftershocks have continued to rock the city since Tuesday’s earthquake.
Chinese tourists, many of whom were staying at Hotel Meilun, have been the worst affected by the earthquake, making up at least six of 12 dead, three others missing and several injured.
Taiwan is located on the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” an area known for intense seismic activity, and was hit by a 7.6-magnitude earthquake in 1999 that killed at least 2,415 people.