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.
Photo: Hung Mei-hsiu, Taipei Times
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.
Taiwanese tourists on board a Kinmen cruise ship had a scare yesterday when it was intercepted by Chinese coast guards who forcefully boarded the vessel to inspect it. The Sunrise, a tourism ferry that operates between Kinmen and Xiamen, China, was sailing around the waters around the islets of Dadan (大膽) and Erdan (二膽) — both of which are part of Kinmen County — yesterday afternoon when it encountered personnel from China’s Fujian Coast Guard Bureau. China Coast Guard personnel forced their way on board and conducted an inspection for about 30 minutes before leaving, local media cited the tourists as saying. The
SEEKING CALM: The US called for maintaining the ‘status quo,’ while the Ministry of National Defense said it would not bolster defenses in the area to avoid raising tensions Taiwanese should have greater faith in the government’s investigation into the capsizing of a Chinese vessel that resulted in the death of two Chinese fishers last week, the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) said yesterday, adding that Taiwan abides by the rule of law. On Wednesday last week, a Chinese speedboat was spotted trespassing in “prohibited” waters within 1.1 nautical miles (2km) of the east coast of Kinmen. It fled after refusing the coast guard’s request to board the vessel, setting off a chase that led to the boat capsizing, with two Chinese fishers dying. Two survivors were deported back to China
KINMEN: Coast guards on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should prohibit the entry of illegal vessels into ‘restricted’ waters to uphold maritime safety, Chen Chien-jen said Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) yesterday called for both sides of the Taiwan Strait to approach the security of Kinmen and Xiamen waters with rationality and equitability, following a boat chase that resulted in the death of two Chinese fishers last week. Chen was responding to media inquiries ahead of a legislative session amid rising cross-strait tensions following the capsizing of a Chinese speedboat off the east coast of Kinmen on Wednesday last week during a pursuit by the Taiwanese coast guard. The Ministry of National Defense established the boundaries of “prohibited” and “restricted” waters around Kinmen in 1992 to better protect
COMMUNICATION: A US representative said that Starshield is inactive in and around Taiwan, which could put US military personnel at risk in the Western Pacific in a conflict Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) might have contravened its Pentagon contract by not providing access to its satellite communication network Starshield in and around Taiwan, a letter from a US House of Representatives committee to the company said. In September last year, the US Department of Defense awarded SpaceX a one-year contract for Starshield access, worth US$100 million. A few months before that, the Pentagon also commissioned SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network to be used by Ukrainian forces amid Russia’s invasion. Starshield is a derivative of Starlink intended for military use. SpaceX has long worked closely with the US military and intelligence agencies, which