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Powerful Taiwan Quake Fells Buildings

A powerful earthquake in Taiwan killed 13 people, and nearly 100 homes which were toppled. Continue reading →

Relatives of missing residents from a 16-store apartment complex felled by a powerful earthquake inTaiwan that killed 13 people were praying for miracles Saturday as rescuers scoured the rubble for survivors.

The cluster of buildings in the historic southern city of Tainan were full of families who had gathered for Lunar New Year celebrations when it collapsed, with residents still trapped inside on Saturday night and the death toll rising.

Tainan bore the brunt of the 6.4 magnitude quake and the disaster zone centres around the residential complex containing almost 100 homes which were toppled.

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The four blocks at the Wei-kuan complex were left lying on their sides with twisted metal girders exposed and clouds of dust rising from the jumbled concrete.

Among the 11 people killed when the apartment buildings collapsed were a 10-day-old baby girl and two other children, the National Fire Agency said.

The other two victims were killed in different parts of the city by falling debris, the agency said.

Around 800 troops have been mobilised to help the rescue effort with one elderly woman plucked from the rubble by a crane late Saturday night.

A senior army official at the scene said around 20 were still trapped in one of the buildings.

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Liang Chuan-shun, deputy fire bureau chief for Tainan, told AFP the search was now "a race against time" and would continue through the night.

"Some rooms in the building were rented to students who would not register with the census authorities - we're not sure how many others might still be left within," he said.

Agonizing wait Relatives huddled by the ruins late Saturday, hoping for news of their loved ones.

"I was woken up by the quake and called my brother's mobile - no-one answered and I feared something was wrong," said Huang Yu-liang who lives near the site and is waiting for news of his brother, sister-in-law and their two children.

"I rushed here and saw the collapsed building and I was in shock. Their building is at the bottom (of the wreckage). I am praying for miracles."

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Rescue workers told AFP that two of the toppled buildings fell against the other two blocks in the complex, crushing them.

Wang Chien-ming came from Yunlin county to the north of Tainan to find his sister and her family.

"My sister, her husband and their child live on the third floor and I haven't heard any news since I arrived here. I will keep waiting for as long as it takes. I won't give up hope."

Officials said there were 256 people registered as living in the complex, which contained 96 apartments.

More than 250 have been rescued so far, with more than 40 hospitalised.

Interior minister Chen Wei-jen said he feared there may have been more people in the building than usual as family members would have returned to celebrate the Lunar New Year holidays next week.

Terrifying power Residents told of their horror as the quake hit, with survivors pulled bleeding and crying from the ruins, some just in their underwear.

"The quake was really powerful - it shook up and down, left and right and even in a circle. It was terrifying," one elderly woman at the scene who was waiting for news of a missing friend told AFP.

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One survivor used a hammer to break out of her crushed home, while another tied clothes together to lower himself to safety, local media reported.

Cranes towered over the disaster zone with diggers trying to move slabs of concrete as rescuers painstakingly freed survivors young and old from the ruins.

Meanwhile groups of people chanted prayers at the site, accompanied by a Buddhist nun.

Eight shelters have been set up around the city, with over 100 people taking refuge there, while restaurants and hotels offered free food and rooms to residents.

Officials said several blocks had collapsed or half collapsed in other parts of the city, with some buildings left leaning at alarming angles.

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Across Tainan, more than 400 people were injured, with over 60 hospitalised.

Around 250,000 were still without water, authorities said, and more than 2,000 homes without electricity.

The quake struck at a depth of 6 miles at around 4 a.m. (2000 GMT Friday), 34 miles northeast of Kaohsiung, Taiwan's second-largest city.

Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is regularly hit by earthquakes.

The island's worst quake in recent decades was 7.6 magnitude in September 1999, killing around 2,400 people.

Rescuers work at a quake site in Taiwan on Feb. 6, 2016. A 6.7-magnitude earthquake hit neighboring Tainan Friday evening.

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This spot in the Cascades was the scene of a February 1910 avalanche that swept two trains off mountain tracks into a canyon, killing 96 people.

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World War I was deadly enough without avalanches. Nevertheless, a series of December 1916 slides, starting with one on Mount Marmolada that dropped 200,000 tons of ice and snow on a military barracks, were as deadly as many battles, killing thousands of troops from Italy and Austria-Hungary.

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Some 200 people were killed in January 1954 in a pair of avalanches. Some of the victims were rescue workers who were caught by the second avalanche while digging out victims from the first.

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An avalanche here near Lenin's Peak in July 1990 killed 40 mountain climbers.

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A series of avalanches sent snow and ice down the foothills of the Himalayas in March 1979, dumping 20 feet of snow on villages and killing 200 people.

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This is the site of what probably was the worst avalanche in history, a May 1970 event triggered by a 7.8 earthquake. Snow and ice came sliding down the mountain at 175 miles per hour speed, totally burying the town of Yungay in snow and ice and taking the lives of an estimated 20,000 people.

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A series of avalanches in February 2010 covered three miles of road with ice and snow, trapping 165 people in their cars and killing them.

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