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In Earthquake-Rattled Taiwan, A Somber Start To Lunar New Year

Rescue efforts continue in southern Taiwan, three days after a powerful magnitude-6.4 earthquake shook the island and killed more than three dozen people. But hopes of finding survivors were fading. Early Monday, more than 100 people were still unaccounted for from the Golden Dragon apartment complex, the center of most rescue efforts.

This weekend, there were countless stories of death — and life.

One rescue caught on Taiwanese news cameras shows crews frantically yelling to help a 3-year-old boy who had survived after being trapped under twisted beams for more than a day. One of his arms was crushed by concrete. Crew members fed the toddler by reaching a straw to him until they could wrestle him out. His parents are still missing.

Elsewhere in the wreckage, two brothers took turns yelling for help in order to preserve their voices. Help reached them and they survived. But scores of people were still missing — or already among the casualties, including a 10-day-old baby, one of the first reported casualties. Another infant — a 6-month-old — was pulled out alive with her father's dead body still hugging her. The baby died later at the hospital.

"All of Taiwan is with these rescuers and the people of Tainan," Taiwanese President-elect Tsai Ing-wen said, referring to the city that sustained most of the destruction. "Today, we are all from Tainan."

On this Chinese New Year's Day, traditional nationwide celebrations were canceled. Instead, Taiwanese leaders rushed to temples to pray for more survivors.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elise Hu is a host-at-large based at NPR West in Culver City, Calif. Previously, she explored the future with her video series, Future You with Elise Hu, and served as the founding bureau chief and International Correspondent for NPR's Seoul office. She was based in Seoul for nearly four years, responsible for the network's coverage of both Koreas and Japan, and filed from a dozen countries across Asia.
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