The number of lives claimed by Taiwan’s magnitude-6.4 earthquake has continued to climb.
According to the Taipei Times, 47 people have been confirmed dead because of the earthquake that rocked southern and central Taiwan at around 4:00 in the morning on February 6.
Forty-five of these 47 deaths have been found at the Weiguan Jinlong, a 17-story apartment complex in Tainan.
The China Post reported that rescue workers have not been able to find any survivors of the earthquake since Monday.
On Tuesday, Tainan’s mayor, William Lai, approved the use of heavy lifting equipment in order to aid rescue workers. Lai said relatives of those missing in the earthquake were “getting more anxious” as time passed and “expect more.”
Rescuers found three bodies on Tuesday and four on Wednesday.
Some of the victims have been identified.
Two of them were Tsai Min-Chou and Lee Hsin-hsuan, a married couple who lived on the seventh floor of the Weiguan Jinlong complex.
“I have cried so much that I don’t have any more tears,” said Tsai’s father, who vowed to take care of the couple’s son.
Another couple found in the ruins of the complex were Tsai Meng-chia and Huang Jo-hsin, students at Tainan’s Kun Shan University. Both were found embracing each other under a slab of concrete, leading rescuers to speculate that Tsai was trying to protect Huang from the falling debris.
At least 90 people, however, still remain unaccounted for.
According to statistics from the Central Emergency Operations Center, 598 people have been injured from the earthquake and 84 have been hospitalized.
Tseng Hsu-cheng, Tainan’s deputy mayor, told relatives that rescuers would stop trying to retrieve victims of the earthquake if said victims showed no vital signs. Instead, rescuers would mark the spots the bodies were found at so they could be removed later.
According to Tseng, the length of time it took to remove bodies from the rubble made it necessary to wait before removing them.
“Every time we find a body, the excavator has to stop operating and search teams have to find a way to bring the body out of the building. The entire process, on average, takes about three to four hours.
“We have to take this measure to avoid further delays in finding possible survivors and rescue efforts could continue uninterrupted.”
According to CNN, the Weiguan Jinlong complex was the only high-rise structure to collapse, and shoddy construction may be partially to blame.
NPR correspondent Elise Hu told CNN that the building “essentially collapsed onto itself.”
“When you see the aerial images around Tainan, the rest of the buildings are standing. But this particular apartment complex is as damaged as it is.”
According to reports by CNN and the BBC, the building’s developer, Lin Ming-hui, and two of his colleagues were brought into district court on Tuesday after tin cans were found in some of the building’s pillars.
UPI reported that Lin — who disappeared after the earthquake and has legally changed his name four times — used legal loopholes available to use the cans as filler in the concrete.
Some experts, however, say the tin cans may not have caused the structural problems.
According to Taiwan’s premier, Simon Cheng, the Taiwanese flag will be flown at half mast across the country on February 15 in order to mourn those killed or injured by the earthquake.
[Photo by Ashley Pon/Getty Images]