A technology-based approach similar to that used in criminal investigations was the key to quickly identifying who was actually trapped in the rubble of the Hualien earthquake and who was registered at the partially collapsed buildings, but not actually present during the disaster.
In the 60 hours after the magnitude 6.0 earthquake hit late on Tuesday, the National Police Agency was able to narrow the number of missing people from 183 to seven, agency Director-General Chen Chia-chin (陳家欽) said.
He attributed this to an approach it has developed based on experience from the 921 Earthquake and the 2016 Tainan earthquake.
Photo: CNA, provided by the National Police Agency
Chen and officials at the agency were connected to the Hualien County Police Bureau via video conference call immediately following the earthquake, the agency said in a statement yesterday.
With household registration data and check-in information, they were able to gather the basic information of the people registered at the affected buildings, it said.
The four buildings that are the focus of search-and-rescue efforts are the Marshal Hotel (統帥飯店), two apartment buildings and the Yun Men Tsui Ti (雲門翠堤) commercial and residential building, which housed the Beauty Inn hostel.
Telecommunications companies were also enlisted to help sift through the large amount of call and message data, to figure out who was actually trapped in the partially collapsed structures, the statement said.
The analysis team used a platform that combined information from household registration offices, hotels and the National Immigration Agency to make contact with the families of those thought to be staying in any of the four severely damaged buildings.
Police were also in touch with all hospitals and shelters in the area to check whether those believed to be missing were there, the statement said.
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