The prospect of finding any more survivors, more than three days after the earthquake struck, are slim. But rescuers are diligently continuing the search.
The death toll from a magnitude 6.4 earthquake in Taiwan rose to 15 on Saturday after rescuers found three bodies in a partially collapsed building.
Rescuers are combing the rubble of the 12-story Yunmen Tsuiti apartment block that also housed a hotel popular with tourists. The building was left tilting at about a 45-degree angle, complicating search efforts amid fears of a complete collapse.
The bodies found Saturday, an adult woman, an adult man and a 12-year-old boy, are believed to be members of a Chinese family that was visiting the city on vacation.
The two people still missing are thought to be part of the same family that arrived from Beijing on Monday, little more than 24 hours before the deadly quake struck.
The chances of finding anyone else alive are slim, but rescuers are continuing their search, authorities said.
"[We] are digging from the fourth floor down and even though the site is leaning at 45 degrees we are making an all-out effort for the rescue," the Hualien fire department said in a statement.
A deadly inn
The family — a couple, their son and two grandparents — was staying in the Beauty Inn, which occupied the lower floors of the building. Most of the dead and injured — 280 at last count — were staying in the hotel.
It was located on Taiwan's east coast, in the city of Hualien — one of the island's most popular tourist destinations. But the mountains that give the city its picturesque background also hint at the deadly tectonic fault lines that cut through Taiwan.
Three other partially collapsed buildings in Hualien were being demolished for public safety, including the local landmark Marshal Hotel where one employee was killed.
A 7.6 earthquake in September 1999 killed about 2,400 people, making it the deadliest quake to shake the island in decades.
That trembler ushered in stricter building codes but many of the island's older buildings are still vulnerable to even moderate quakes.
bik/sms (AFP, AP, dpa)