Hopes fading of finding more survivors in Taiwan earthquake

An official inspects the failed rebar foundation pillars during a continued search operation at an apartment building, which collapsed after a strong earthquake in Hualien County, eastern Taiwan. (AP)
Updated 09 February 2018
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Hopes fading of finding more survivors in Taiwan earthquake

HUALIEN, Taiwan: Hopes of finding additional survivors from this week’s earthquake in Taiwan were fading Friday after two more bodies were found in a partially collapsed hotel and no signs detected of a missing family of five.
Rescuers broke through to a room in the Beauty Inn where the couple — Canadian citizens originally from Hong Kong — were found, Taiwanese broadcasters reported. No signs of life were found, they said.
The hotel, located on the lower floors of the 12-story Yunmen Tsuiti building, had almost entirely collapsed. The building itself was leaning at a 45-degree angle, forcing crews to stabilize it with steel beams.
The others missing in the hotel are five members of a family from China, including parents, grandparents and their 12-year-old son.
The Yunmen Tsuiti building was one of several damaged by the magnitude 6.4 temblor that struck Tuesday in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hualien county, whose economy is heavily dependent on tourism.
The deaths of the couple, both 49, raises the death toll to 12, including four tourists from China and a 27-year-old Filipino employed as a household helper. Taiwan’s National Fire Agency listed 273 people as injured.
Hundreds of rescuers were on the scene, including a team from Japan deploying cutting-edge equipment that can detect a heartbeat within a 15-meter (49-foot) range.
Taiwanese broadcasters said earlier indications that signs of life had been detected turned out to be false. Efforts to drill into the hotel rooms where the missing were thought to be trapped was made more difficult by the angle of the building’s lean and the collapsed state of the interior.
TV stations also reported rescuers had detected the smell of decaying corpses.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen visited Thursday with people sheltering in schools and other sites as a safeguard against repeated aftershocks.
Taiwan has frequent earthquakes, most of them minor, but a 1999 quake killed more than 2,300 people and was Taiwan’s worst recent natural disaster.


Man sentenced to 25 years for mailing fatal dose of cyanide

This 2007 booking file photo provided by the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department shows Sidney Kilmartin, formerly of Windham, Maine. (AP)
Updated 23 May 2018
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Man sentenced to 25 years for mailing fatal dose of cyanide

  • A fair sentence would range from zero to 20 years
  • He charged with advertising and mailing a substance he said was cyanide to several suicidal people

PORTLAND, Maine: A federal judge in Maine sentenced a man to 25 years in prison on Tuesday for mailing a fatal dose of cyanide to a suicidal Englishman.
Judge John Woodcock’s ruling in US District Court in Portland came four years after Sidney Kilmartin was arrested for mailing the poison to Andrew Denton of Hull, England. The case raised questions about Kilmartin’s own history of mental illness and whether the act of mailing a fatal substance to a suicidal person was tantamount to murder.
Kilmartin, 56, of Windham, Maine, was found guilty in 2016 of mailing injurious articles resulting in death and witness tampering in a case that frequently was delayed in court. His lawyer, Bruce Merrill of Portland, said he would appeal both the conviction and the sentence.
Investigators charged Kilmartin with advertising and mailing a substance he said was cyanide to several suicidal people. It was really Epsom salt. But the investigators found Kilmartin sent the real thing to Denton after Denton had threatened to report the fraud, and the Englishman used it to kill himself.
Woodcock expressed sympathy for Kilmartin, who himself has attempted suicide in the past, once intentionally overdosing on antipsychotic medication and drinking antifreeze. But the judge added that Kilmartin’s fraud and role in Denton’s death represented an “appalling moral vacuum” worthy of stiff punishment.
“Not merely illegal — they were perpetrated in a moral black hole,” Woodcock said. “Just an unimaginable moral black well that these actions took place in.”
Kilmartin, who wore an orange prison jumpsuit and spoke only to address the judge, faced a maximum sentence of life in prison. Merrill had said in an earlier sentence hearing that he felt a fair sentence would range from zero to 20 years because of Kilmartin’s history of mental illness.
Kilmartin and Denton were “kindred spirits” who related to each other because they were both suicidal, Merrill said Tuesday. He said the two communicated about the most effective way to take the cyanide, a highly toxic, colorless salt.
“Two very ill, depressed people talking about the best way to take potassium cyanide,” he said. “Not the kind of conversation people normally have.”
US Attorney Halsey Frank said during Tuesday’s court proceedings that Kilmartin deliberately took advantage of depressed people for his own gain. He described Kilmartin’s actions as “killing someone to obstruct justice while taking advantage of vulnerable people.”