Tainan, Taiwan (BBN)-At least 124 people remain trapped under the rubble of an apartment block in the Taiwanese city of Tainan after Saturday’s earthquake, officials say.
Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te said many of them were buried deep inside the ruins of the 17-storey block, reports BBC.
Nineteen people are now confirmed dead following the quake, which struck early on Saturday.
The apartment block is one of several buildings that collapsed in Tainan city during the magnitude 6.4 tremor.
Among the dead was a newborn baby.
Nearly five hundred people were injured, at least 92 of whom remain in hospital.
President Ma Ying-jeou promised an “all-out effort” to rescue people.
The 17 storeys of the Weiguan Jinlong (Golden Dragon) apartment complex, home to at least 256 people, crumpled down on each other as the quake took hold just before 04:00 (20:00 GMT on Friday).
More than two hundred people were rescued, but a baby, young girl and two adult men were among 12 in the complex who did not survive, officials said. Elsewhere in the city, at least two other victims were killed by falling debris.
Hundreds of soldiers have joined in the rescue effort, with the help of hi-tech equipment and rescue dogs, and shelters are due to be set up for those who have lost their homes in the city of two million people.
More than 24 hours after the earthquake, fire fighters, police, soldiers and volunteers were picking through the ruins, some using their hands.
Watched by family members of those missing, they pulled out a 20-year-old survivor who was then taken to hospital.
A woman surnamed Chang said she was waiting to hear from her daughter, who lived on the fifth floor of the fallen apartment block.
“She’s not answering my phone calls. I am trying to hold my emotions and stay strong. I’ll do that until I find her,” she said.
“I know they will find her, but I have also prepared for the worst,” she added.
Interior Minister Chen Wei-jen said investigators would examine whether the building’s construction met requirements.
The quake was shallow, meaning its effects would have been amplified, the US Geological Survey said.
There were also at least five aftershocks.
The quake was felt in the capital Taipei, 300km away.
Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and often sees tremors.
China has offered assistance although at the moment at least, given the relatively limited scale of the disaster, it does not look as if much outside help is needed, the BBC’s John Sudworth reports from Beijing.
Back in 1999, when a 7.6 magnitude quake killed more than 2,300 people in central Taiwan, a similar offer of help from the mainland became embroiled in political wrangling, with Taiwan accusing China of exploiting the situation for its own political ends, our correspondent adds.