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September 24, 2017

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Tainan rescue efforts draw to a conclusion

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The remains of the last unaccounted-for resident of an apartment complex in Tainan that collapsed when a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck Southern Taiwan last week have been found, Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) said Saturday.

Based on household data and resident reports, the victim was Hsieh Chen-yu (謝鎮宇), head of the building's management committee, Lai said.

The finding brings the rescue mission to a conclusion, he said at a press conference held at 4:20 p.m. on the progress of the search for the residents of the collapsed Weiguan Jinlong apartment complex in Tainan's Yongkang District who remained unaccounted for.

Hsieh "might have wanted to wait until everyone else had left," Lai said.

The last victim's remains were discovered at 3:57 p.m. Coincidentally, the earthquake shook Tainan at 3:57 p.m. Feb. 6.

The death toll from the earthquake has been confirmed at 116, all but two of whom were Weiguan Jinlong building residents. Those two were reported dead in the city's Guiren District after being hit by falling objects.

Tainan City Government statistics show that a total of 397 people were rescued from the collapsed building, 104 of whom required hospital treatment.

There is one person still unaccounted for in Tainan since the earthquake, but the police said the individual is a homeless person who is not believed to have been in the Weiguan area when the disaster hit.

The individual has been listed as a missing person, police said.

Cabinet to Meet Today over Post-quake Reconstruction

Premier Chang Shan-chen said Saturday he will call a cross-ministry meeting today to discuss reconstruction measures in the wake of the deadly Feb. 6 earthquake.

Chan said he will discuss with the ministers of finance, the interior, agriculture, technology and others in the meeting, but no specific reconstruction plans have been decided yet.

Lawmakers from Tainan, the hardest hit area in the disaster, have called on the government to introduce special provisions for the reconstruction work, following the precedent seen in the wake of the Sept. 21, 1999 earthquake, where hundreds of people were killed and thousands of buildings toppled.

Cabinet spokesman Sun Li-chun said the central government will discuss with local authorities to understand their needs before deciding whether special provisions have to be introduced.

Sun said the Cabinet hopes to handle the reconstruction in the most flexible and fastest way.

The Cabinet will initially introduce measures to quickly help individuals and companies affected by the earthquake, according to the United Evening News.

The government will look to reduce the loan burdens for affected homeowners, give tax exemptions for affected firms, and offer compensation for agricultural and fishery losses.

The Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) will meet with representatives from banks tomorrow trying to work out a loan reduction scheme for the affected borrowers, the paper said.

The FSC has also asked banks to stop collecting payments from the affected borrowers in the meantime, the paper said, adding the government is now gathering information to determine the exact sums of loans involved and what kind of relief aid the affected borrowers may need.

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