Taiwan earthquake toll reaches 14

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Taipei, Feb 10 (IANS) Search and rescue teams in Taiwan on Saturday pulled out two bodies of five members of a Chinese family who remain trapped after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit the city of Hualien in Taiwan, raising the number of fatalities to 14, the Emergency Operation Centre said.

The rescue mission to free the family that was staying at the Meilun Hotel, part of the Yun Men Tsui Ti building, was hindered due to severe damage caused to the building, bad weather and continuous aftershocks.

The rescue teams struggled to gain access to the room where the family had been trapped for over 80 hours since Tuesday’s quake, Efe news reported.

The Hualien Fire Department’s rescue team leader said there were no signs of life, adding that the situation was not hopeful as severe conditions were making it hard to reach the bodies.

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Despite the difficulties, rescue operations would continue until all the members of the family are pulled out, Hualien Mayor Fu Kun-chi said.

Relatives of those trapped, accompanied by Yu Fengying, Deputy Director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the Beijing Municipal Government, arrived in Taiwan on Saturday and were scheduled to go to Hualien on Sunday.

The earthquake, followed by hundreds of aftershocks, including one measuring 5.7 magnitude, left 280 people injured and more than 800 were evacuated.

It also damaged four buildings, three of which were demolished due to safety concerns.

The aftershocks continued to rock the city.

–IANS

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