Fear and anger as aftershocks rattle Taiwan quake survivors’ nerves

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HUALIEN, TAIWAN: At an elementary school-turned-shelter in Taiwan's Hualien city, some survivors of a tower block left teetering by Tuesday's quake were baffled and angry that such a seemingly solid structure had folded with deadly results.

Emergency workers on Thursday were still pulling bodies from the 12-storey Yun Tsui apartment block, which was left tottering at a 50-degree angle when its lower levels pancaked during the 6.4-magnitude quake. At least six of the nine confirmed dead so far perished there.

"It is unbelievable such a big building toppled," Mr Chen Chien-hsiang, 66, told AFP.

"We question whether the structural integrity of the building was damaged. Why else would it fall the way it did?" he fumed.

Like many of those who survived, Mr Chen had to crawl his way out of an apartment upended by the tremor.

"My TV, a traditional one, was flying like it was in space," he recalled.

His apartment was on the sixth storey, but he managed to drag himself out of a window that was suddenly perched closer to the ground as a result of the quake.

Taiwan sits on the western edge of the tectonically active Ring of Fire and routinely experiences earthquakes. After an especially deadly quake in 1999 killed more than 2,000 people, stricter building codes were brought in.

But many of Taiwan's older buildings remain perilously vulnerable to even moderate strength quakes.- AFP