2 Canadians believed trapped in collapsed building in eastern Taiwan

2 Canadian citizens are believed to be trapped in the collapsed Yun Men Tsui Ti Building in eastern Taiwan's Hualien City


(By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Two Canadian nationals, who are of Hong Kong heritage, are believed to be trapped inside the rubble of the Yun Men Tsui Ti Building (雲門翠堤大樓) in eastern Taiwan's Hualien City, after a deadly magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck the area on Feb. 6.

A Canadian couple, identified as Peter So (蘇煒禧) and Freda So (蕭敏瑜), was believed to be staying in room 213 of the Beauty Inn on the second floor of the 12-story Yun Men Tsui Ti Building when the quake struck at 11:50 p.m. on Feb. 6. The powerful quake caused the first three floors of the tower to collapse, including the hotel section, which occupied the second and third floors, and the structure is now leaning precariously by 30 degrees.

According to the Central Emergency Operation Center, when search and rescue workers inserted a probe into the room where the couple was believed to be staying, it detected signs of life. However, rescue workers have also smelled the odor of a decaying body or bodies in the same vicinity.

Rescue workers are toiling tirelessly to reach the area where they believe the couple is situated, but it is slow going as the floor they were on was completely crushed and aftershocks have continue to plague the area.

The search work in the area in being conducted by 40 special fire department rescuers, 15 firefighters from New Taipei City, 15 firefighters from Hsinchu City and 26 firefighters from Taichung City. Search and rescue workers from other counties and cities are still on standby.

An "International Urgent Assistance Investigation Team" dispatched by Japan arrived at the Yun Men Tsui Ti Building at 3 pm on Feb. 8. The team of seven includes experts from Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, the Tokyo Fire Department, the Japan Coast Guard, the Japan International Cooperation Agency and other units.