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Earthquake aftershocks halt the demolition of a leaning building in Taiwan. Death toll rises to 13

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — The demolition of a building that is leaning precariously after an earthquake in Taiwan was halted on Saturday because of aftershocks that made it lean even more, media reports said.

The red building, about 10 stories tall and inclined over a street in the city of Hualien, has become an iconic image from the magnitude 7.4 earthquake that also buried people under boulders at nearby Taroko National Park, a popular hiking destination about 25 kilometers (15 miles) northwest of Hualien.

The death toll rose to 13 after a third victim was found on the park’s Shakadang Trail. Six other people are still missing, including three on the same trail. More than 400 people remained stranded three days after the quake in locations cut off by damage. Most are at a hotel in Taroko park.

Hundreds of aftershocks have struck the area since the Wednesday morning quake off Taiwan’s east coast, including a magnitude-5.2 earthquake shortly before noon on Saturday.

Survivors have told harrowing tales of rocks tumbling onto roadways, trapping them in tunnels until rescuers arrived to free them.

The relatively low number of deaths from the powerful quake has been attributed to strict construction standards and widespread public education campaigns on the earthquake-prone island. The quake was the strongest to hit Taiwan since a magnitude 7.7 earthquake in 1999 that killed 2,400 people.

Rescuers were planning to bring in heavy equipment to try to recover two bodies pinned under boulders on the Shakadang Trail. The three dead and three missing on the trail include a family of five. Search and recovery work had been called off Friday afternoon because of aftershocks.

In Hualien, a city official said that experts would discuss how to proceed with the demolition of the leaning building. Offerings were made at a ceremony before the demolition began the previous day.

Article Topic Follows: AP National News

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