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Survivors rescued in Taiwan two days after quake

Four more survivors have been pulled out alive from a toppled 17-floor building in the city of Tainan more than 48 hours after a deadly earthquake. The mayor warned that the death toll was likely to exceed 100.

Rescue efforts in the Taiwanese city of Tainan are focused on the wreckage of the collapsed Wei-guan Golden Dragon Building, where 117 people are listed as missing after Saturday's magnitude 6.4 earthquake.

According to Taiwan's Eastern Broadcasting Corporation, a woman and a man were conscious when they were pulled out of rubble that was once the building's sixth floor. Rescuers said the woman had survived by lying underneath her husband, whose body shielded her from a collapsed beam, he died in the quake.

Later on Monday, an eight-year-old girl and her aunt were pulled out alive from the rubble of the collapsed apartment block.

The government of Tainan, the city most affected by the earthquake, said more than 170 people had been rescued from the 17-storey building so far.

The confirmed death toll from the quake has reached 38, most of whom were recovered from the Wei-guan building. More than 100 people are still believed to be buried within the collapsed high rise apartment block built in 1989.

"There are more fatalities [inside] than those pulled out [alive], and the number of fatalities will probably exceed 100," Tainan Mayor William Lai said in comments published on the United Daily News website.

Earthquakes occur frequently in Taiwan, although stronger tremors causing serious damage are comparatively rare. A magnitude 7.6 earthquake in central Taiwan in 1999 was a recent exception, killing more than 2,300 people. Taiwan's constructions have had to adhere to safety regulations since the 1970s, but the rules were tightened after the 1999 quake.

During a visit to Tainan, Taiwan's recently-elected president Tsai Ing-wen called for a "general sorting out" of buildings pre-dating such strict rules. "There needs to be a continued strengthening of their ability to deal with disasters," she underlined.

das/msh (Reuters, AP)

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