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Two days after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit Taiwan, emergency workers were shocked to find tin cans amidst a collapsed high-rise building's rubble during the rescue operations. The findings have led the government to now launch an investigation into the construction of the Wei-Kuan building complex in Tainan.
According to local officials, blue cans were used in the construction of the building, which has claimed the most lives in the city. Nearly 37 people have so far been reported dead following the earthquake that jolted the island and some 124 people are still believed to be buried under the 17-storey high-rise building's wreckage.
The cans were reportedly used as construction fillers in the beams. While the government has pledged its full support in investigating the disaster, including the mayor of Tainan, Lai Ching-te, some have said the construction of the building cannot be blamed.
"For such purposes in construction, it was not illegal prior to September 1999, but since then styrofoam and formwork boards have been used instead," an engineer told Taiwan's state news agency, Central News Agency (CAN), reported Focus Taiwan. "When a building collapses in an earthquake, it is because of structural design problems and shoddy construction quality."
"The building essentially collapsed onto itself," Elise Hu, an NPR correspondent present in Taipei when the earthquake hit, told CNN. "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."
Meanwhile, rescue efforts are ongoing with a 14-year-old girl successfully pulled out nearly 20 hours after the earthquake hit southern Taiwan. The girl, identified as Zhou Li, was buried under a bed on the sixth floor of the toppled Wei-Kuan building in Tainan City on 6 February.
Another eight-year-old girl and a woman were also rescued alive from the collapsed apartment building on 8 February. "She is awake, but looks dehydrated, lost some temperature, but she's awake and her blood pressure is OK," said Mayor Lai Ching-Te. "I asked her if there's anything wrong with her body. She shook her head."