Search for Taiwan quake victims ends as toll rises to 17

A rescue worker walks past a crane as the Yun Tsui building (back) leans to one side after an overnight earthquake in the Taiwanese city of Hualien on Feb. 7, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 11 February 2018
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Search for Taiwan quake victims ends as toll rises to 17

TAIPEI: Rescuers Sunday ended their search of a Taiwan building partially toppled by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake as the last trapped pair were presumed dead, bringing the final death toll to 17.
Thousands of emergency workers had combed through rubble at the foot of the 12-story Yun Tsui apartment block since the quake struck the eastern city of Hualien late Tuesday.
It was left leaning at around a 50-degree angle by the quake, complicating rescue efforts due to fears of an imminent collapse.
Hualien mayor Fu Kun-chi said the last two victims were pinned under heavy pillars that could not be removed without risking a total collapse of the building, and the rescue was called off with the consent of their relatives.
Excavators began digging through the building from the top later Sunday to try to recover the bodies, he added
“Seventeen people were unfortunately killed in the earthquake... I believe their relatives will receive proper assistance,” Premier William Lai said while paying his respects to victims in Hualien Sunday.
The last pair are believed to be members of a family from Beijing who arrived in Taiwan on Monday, authorities said. The bodies of three other members of the family including a boy aged 12 were recovered Saturday.
They were staying in a second-floor room at a hotel in the Yun Tsui building when the quake struck.
Fourteen of the 17 people who were killed perished in the building.
Three partially collapsed buildings in Hualien are being demolished, including the local landmark Marshal Hotel where one employee was killed.
Hualien, on Taiwan’s picturesque east coast, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the quake-probe island.
Taiwan’s worst tremor in recent decades was a 7.6-magnitude quake in September 1999 that killed around 2,400 people.
That quake ushered in stricter building codes but many of Taiwan’s older buildings remain perilously vulnerable to even moderate tremors.


Pakistan reopens airspace to civil aviation after India standoff

Updated 16 July 2019
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Pakistan reopens airspace to civil aviation after India standoff

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan opened its airspace to civil aviation on Tuesday, following months of restrictions imposed in the wake of a standoff with neighboring India.
“With immediate effect Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civil traffic on published ATS (Air Traffic Service) routes,” according to a so-called Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) published on the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority’s website.
The move by Pakistan, which lies in the middle of a vital aviation corridor, offers a welcome break for international airlines after the airspace restrictions affected hundreds of commercial and cargo flights each day, adding to flight time for passengers and fuel costs for airlines.
India’s ministry of civil aviation said that after the lifting of the NOTAMS, there were no further restrictions on airspace in either country.
“Flights have started using the closed air routes, bringing a significant relief for airlines,” it said.
Pakistan closed its airspace in February after an attack by a Pakistan-based militant group in Indian-controlled Kashmir led to an armed standoff between the two nuclear-armed powers.
Both countries carried out aerial attacks over the other’s territory and warplanes fought a brief dogfight over the skies of the disputed Kashmir region during which an Indian fighter jet was shot down.
Partial operations at Pakistani airports resumed once the immediate crisis passed but restrictions continued to affect many international carriers using Pakistani airspace.
Pakistan’s announcement came hours after United Airlines Holdings Inc. said it was extending the suspension of its flights from the United States to Delhi and Mumbai in India until Oct. 26, citing continued restrictions of Pakistani airspace.