In Earthquake-Rattled Taiwan, A Somber Start To Lunar New Year | KERA News

In Earthquake-Rattled Taiwan, A Somber Start To Lunar New Year

Feb 8, 2016
Originally published on February 8, 2016 11:41 am

Rescue efforts continue in southern Taiwan, three days after a powerful magnitude-6.4 earthquake shook the island and killed more than three dozen people. But hopes of finding survivors were fading. Early Monday, more than 100 people were still unaccounted for from the Golden Dragon apartment complex, the center of most rescue efforts.

This weekend, there were countless stories of death — and life.

One rescue caught on Taiwanese news cameras shows crews frantically yelling to help a 3-year-old boy who had survived after being trapped under twisted beams for more than a day. One of his arms was crushed by concrete. Crew members fed the toddler by reaching a straw to him until they could wrestle him out. His parents are still missing.

Elsewhere in the wreckage, two brothers took turns yelling for help in order to preserve their voices. Help reached them and they survived. But scores of people were still missing — or already among the casualties, including a 10-day-old baby, one of the first reported casualties. Another infant — a 6-month-old — was pulled out alive with her father's dead body still hugging her. The baby died later at the hospital.

"All of Taiwan is with these rescuers and the people of Tainan," Taiwanese President-elect Tsai Ing-wen said, referring to the city that sustained most of the destruction. "Today, we are all from Tainan."

On this Chinese New Year's Day, traditional nationwide celebrations were canceled. Instead, Taiwanese leaders rushed to temples to pray for more survivors.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Rescue efforts in Taiwan continue with hundreds of crew workers scouring through rubble three days after a powerful earthquake shook the island. At least 38 people are reported dead. NPR's Elise Hu reports from Taiwan, where hope of finding more survivors is fading.

ELISE HU, BYLINE: At the Golden Dragon apartment complex, in a mess of metal and concrete, are stories of death and life.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

HU: "What is your name" a rescue worker says to a 3-year-old boy trapped under twisted beams for more than a day, one arm crushed by concrete. Crew members fed the toddler by reaching a straw to him until they could wrestle him out.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

HU: His parents are still missing. Elsewhere in the wreckage, two brothers took turns yelling for help in order to preserve their voices. Help reached them, and they survived. But dozens are still missing or already among the casualties, including a 10-day-old baby. Another infant, a 6-month-old, was pulled out alive with her father's dead body still hugging her. The baby died later at the hospital. Taiwanese President-elect Tsai Ing-wen visited the site early Monday morning.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT-ELECT TSAI ING-WEN: (Foreign language spoken).

HU: "All of Taiwan is with these rescuers and the people of Tainan," she said, referring to the city that sustained most of the destruction. On this Chinese New Year's Day, traditional nationwide celebrations are canceled. Instead, Taiwanese leaders have rushed to temples to pray for more survivors. Elise Hu, NPR News, Taipei. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.