Filipino helper found dead in Taiwan quake; 7 others missing

HUALIEN, Taiwan -- The body of the Filipino woman who went missing following the magnitude 6.4 earthquake that struck Taiwan was retrieved, while rescuers were searching Friday, February 9, for seven more people.

Melody Castro's body was found in the rubble of a building that almost collapsed following the earthquake. She was 27 years old, from Cagayan province. She worked as a household helper, reports said.

The official death toll stood at 10 on Friday, including four tourists from China. Taiwan's National Fire Agency listed 273 people as injured.

The seven missing are a couple from Hong Kong who hold Canadian citizenship and five members of a family from China, including parents, grandparents and their 12-year-old son.

All are trapped in a hotel on the bottom floors of the Yunmen Tsuiti building, 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.

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 in the rubble of the lower floors that had almost entirely collapsed.

Taiwanese broadcasters said earlier indications that signs of life had been detected turned out to be false. Rescuers were attempting to drill into the hotel rooms where the missing were thought to be trapped, but the angle of the building's lean and the collapsed state of the interior were creating major difficulties.

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. (AP/SunStar Philippines)

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