Taiwan earthquake death toll rises to nine, as bodies of three more mainland Chinese recovered
The three women had been sharing a room at the Beautiful Stay motel in Hualien and had arrived earlier on Tuesday
Taiwanese rescuers have found the bodies of three more mainland Chinese tourists, taking the number of mainlanders killed in Tuesday’s magnitude 6.4 earthquake in Hualien to four.
The bodies of the three women, identified as Wei Jia, 50, Yang Lirong, 47, and Lee Yangqi, 19, were found in a bedroom at the Beautiful Stay motel, the Central Emergency Operation Centre said on Thursday.
The women arrived in the city on Tuesday and were sharing a room, according to the Straits Exchange Foundation, a semi-official agency set up to deal with the mainland in the absence of formal relations.
On Wednesday, another woman visiting from the mainland, Yu Fei, died in hospital from a serious head injury sustained in the quake, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said.
Council officials said the foundation had passed on the information about the people killed to its mainland counterpart, the Association of Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (Arats).
Yu’s husband arrived in Taipei on Wednesday, the foundation said, adding that it was helping Yu’s mother and brother, as well as the families of the three other women killed to travel to Taiwan to retrieve the bodies.
In line with protocol, lower level mainland officials, including ones from Arats and the Cross-Strait Tourism Exchange Association, are expected to accompany the bereaved families to help handle the matter.
Taiwan rejected Beijing’s offer to send a team to the island to help with the rescue operation, saying it had adequate manpower and resources to cope. Cross-strait relations have soured since President Tsai Ing-wen refused to accept the one-China principle after becoming the island’s leader in May 2016. Beijing later suspended cross-strait exchanges and talks with Taipei.
A total of nine people have now been reported killed in the earthquake, with 267 injured and 58 still missing, five of whom are from China’s mainland.
Rescuers pulled the body of an employee of the Beautiful Stay motel from a first floor room that was crushed when the building listed due to the effects of the quake, the centre said.
The motel was part of an 11-storey residential building that had been built on the Milun Fault that lies below Hualien.
“There was no problem with the materials used in the construction of the building as the structure from the fourth floor up was still intact despite the collapse,” Liu Yen-hu, president of the Hualien County Architecture Association, said.
“It tilted mostly because it was built on top of the fault, and because there were balconies on just one side of the building,” he said.
Workers have placed steel beams to stabilise the building while rescuers try to rescue survivors on the opposite side, Associated Press reported.
The rescue operation has been interrupted several times by strong aftershocks. Three tremors of magnitudes between 4 and 4.8 were recorded on Thursday morning, while a magnitude 5.7 aftershock was reported on Wednesday night.