By Jahnvi Upreti
On the morning of Saturday, Feb. 6, Taiwanese citizens watched in horror as the ground shook beneath them and the 17-story Wei-guan Golden Dragon building collapsed to the ground, CCTV America reported. The collapse of the huge building took place in Taiwan’s oldest city, Tainan, located in the southern part of the country. At least 38 people were killed in Tainan and over 150 are currently missing — they are presumed to be buried under the rubble or dead. There were two deaths reported outside Tainan. Among the people missing, CNN reported that dozens of them are children.
The Taiwanese government is currently investigating the circumstances regarding the collapse of the Wei-guan complex. Following its collapse, Taiwanese citizens have noted its weak infrastructure, with “witnesses (even describing) materials such as tin cans and plastic foam spilling from the building’s concrete columns as it crumbled,” TIME reported. Lin Minghui, the developer of the complex, went missing following the collapse of his building. He was swiftly located and arrested by Taiwanese police on Monday, Feb. 8. According to a Tainan official, Minghui has “record of dubious business transactions,” CNN reported.
This earthquake was particularly devastating not just in its magnitude, but also because it cast a dark shadow over Taiwan’s most important celebration of the year: Lunar New Year. “Imagine something like this happening during a major holiday, like Thanksgiving or Christmas,” one Taiwanese citizen reported to CBS. The new year officially started on Monday, Feb. 8, but celebrations were put on hold. President Ma Ying-jeou and President-elect Tsai Ing-wen canceled the traditional handing out of envelopes of cash in their hometowns, CBS reported.
Tensions have risen among families, relatives and friends who still have loved ones missing as they demand answers from the rescue teams, according to CBS. With helicopters flying and volunteers pouring into the city, all anyone can do is wait and see.
The earthquake was measured at a 6.4 on the Richter magnitude scale, CNN reported. Though the measurement is rather high, the quake was shallow and the damage was not extensive. Taiwan has experienced more disastrous earthquakes before, including an earthquake with a 7.6 magnitude in 1999, CBS reported.
Despite the current unfortunate circumstances, Taiwanese citizens still plan to go forth with their celebrations, hoping to reverse their luck from the earthquake and enter the new year with a resilient spirit.