Taiwan earthquake: Death toll reaches 34, hunt on for survivors

Taiwan earthquakeThe death toll from a powerful earthquake that toppled a tall building in Taiwan has increased to at least 34, according to Government figures on Monday, with rescuers digging through rubble for survivors more than 48 hours after the quake struck.

More than 100 are believed to be still buried in the collapsed building from a disaster that struck during the most important family holiday in the Chinese calendar � the Lunar New Year holiday.

The government in Tainan, the most affected city, said that over 170 people had been rescued alive from the 17-storey building which folded like an accordion after the earthquake struck.

Mao Yi-chen, 20, was rescued soon after the magnitude earthquake 6.4 struck before dawn Saturday, and her older sister Mao Yi-hsuan was pulled out Sunday in serious condition. A rescue worker had handed over a photo album and homemade cards found next to her for her family to collect, said local official Wang Ding-yu.

Wang Ting-yu, a legislator who represents the area, told reporters the woman, Tsao Wei-ling, was found lying under her dead husband. Their 2-year-old son, who was also killed, was found lying nearby.

Another person has also been located, a man called Li Tsung-tian, Wang said. The man is conscious and talking to rescuers.

Tainan mayor William Lai said Tsao and Li were the only signs of life at present, although rescuers were continuing to look for others.

"We have not given up on even the tiniest of possibilities," he told reporters.

An investigation has been launched into whether the construction of the building contributed to its collapse.
Tainan City Mayor William Lai said survivors had reported legal "violations" in its construction but gave no further details.

Mr Lai said he had contacted judicial units and that prosecutors had formally launched an investigation into the construction of the apartment building.

"We've also commissioned three independent bodies to preserve evidence during the rescue so we can assist the residents if they want to file lawsuits in the future," he said.

"We will hold the builder responsible if they have broken the law."

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