Sun, Feb 14, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Tainan ends search for quake victims

EXPANDED EXAMINATIONS:A project to evaluate the structural safety of buildings and to provide subsidies for improvements was expanded to 2,000 buildings

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Members of the Hsinchu County and Hsinchu City fire bureaus contribute to search-and-rescue efforts in Tainan yesterday at the Weiguan Jinlong complex, which collapsed during a magnitude 6.4 earthquake on Saturday last week.

Photo: Hung Mei-hsiu, Taipei Times

Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) at 4:20pm yesterday announced that the search-and-rescue operation at the Weiguan Jinlong complex in Tainan, which collapsed in an earthquake on Feb. 6, has come to an end, after the body of the last missing resident was found.

According to Central Emergency Operations Center statistics, the death toll from the magnitude 6.4 earthquake yesterday rose to a total of 116, of which 114 occurred at the Weiguan Jinlong complex, with one person who lived near the complex still missing.

The last body, which was recovered at 3:57pm yesterday, was the building’s management committee chairman, Hsieh Chen-Yu (謝鎮宇), who lived in building G, Lai said.

Tainan Deputy Mayor Tseng Hsu-cheng (曾旭正) said the only person still missing after the earthquake is a woman surnamed Lin (林), who lived near the Weiguan Jinlong complex and had a habit of going out to exercise early every morning. Lin’s family has been unable to contact her since the earthquake.

The use of heavy equipment to break up and clear away rubble from the site was authorized in the hope of rescuing everyone as soon as possible, Lai said, adding that experience gained from the recovery work could be used as a reference by the National Fire Administration when considering rescue procedures in the future.

If rescue workers can use heavy equipment to retrieve bodies intact from the rubble, it means that such equipment could also be used to accelerate the search for survivors in sections that search-and-rescue personnel would not be able to reach by themselves, he said.

Even though heavy equipment was ready for use 36 hours after the earthquake, authorities were required to follow regulations and could only allow their use 62 hours after the event, which created a dilemma, Lai said.

The Construction and Planning Administration said it would expand a two-year-old-building examination project, increasing the number of buildings that are to receive subsidies of NT$8,000 for surveys and improvements this year from 500 to 2,000.

Priority is to be given to buildings in the six special municipalities and southern counties, with an emphasis to be placed on ensuring the structural safety of buildings, the administration said, adding that applications for the subsidy might begin as soon as next month.

The project, which is to examine the ability of private buildings to resist earthquakes and provide a subsidy for improvement measures, was planned in July last year, administration Director Hsu Wen-lung (許文龍) said, adding that because of the earthquake, the agency has decided to expand its scale to 2,000 buildings.

Preliminary evaluations are to include checking for cracks on buildings’ beams and pillars and peeling on exterior walls, Hsu said.

Due to southern residents’ concerns about the structural safety of buildings they live in after the earthquake, the administration is to subsidize buildings in southern Taiwan first, he added.

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