TAIPEI – Rescue teams in Taiwan ended on Sunday the rescue operations after it pulled out the last two bodies trapped after a magnitude-6.4 earthquake rocked the city of Hualien in Taiwan on Tuesday, leaving 17 dead and 279 injured.
The more than 100-hour search operation, which was hindered by almost constant aftershocks and severe weather conditions, ended after rescue teams located the two last missing people underneath rubble and declared them dead, but they could not reach their bodies.
The team accordingly ended the rescue operation and deployed heavy excavators, with the consent of the relatives of those trapped, who arrived on the island from China on Saturday, according to Hualien Mayor, Fu Kun-Chi.
The 17 killed include nine from mainland China, five Taiwanese nationals, a Canadian couple and one Filipino woman.
Fourteen of the dead were in the Yun Men Tsui Ti residential-commercial building, which houses the Meilun Hotel.
The 12-story building was tilted at angle of more than 30 degrees following the quake, and firefighters had to place metal support beams to prevent it from collapsing.
The Hualien government said on Thursday it had started the investigations to ascertain if the building, erected in 1995, complied with the regulations, especially measures to protect against earthquakes.
Besides the dead and the injured, 800 people have been evacuated, 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.
Taiwan is located on the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” an area known for intense seismic activity, and was hit by a magnitude-7.6 earthquake in 1999 that killed at least 2,415 people.