The bodies of three residents were found Thursday on the ground floor of their home, which was engulfed by a landslide in Yenchao District in central Kaohsiung City.
Elderly couple Shih Fu-yin and Shih Wu-luan, who owned the home, and their 50-year-old son, Shih Fu-yin, were buried by the landslide.
According to Kaohsiung City Government officials, the three were together in Shih Wu-luan’s room when they died. Shih Wu-luan had a physical disability and lived in a separate room from her husband.
Officials speculated that Shih Fu-yin and his son had dashed into Shih Wu-luan’s room to help her leave the house when the landslide struck, but all three failed to escape.
Rescue efforts were suspended on Wednesday afternoon due to heavy rains, before continuing Thursday morning.
Rescue teams had torn down remaining parts of the house in hopes that the victims were still alive, officials said.
The couple’s other daughter and son arrived at the scene on Thursday morning.
Kaohsiung City Major Chen Chu also arrived at the scene in the early afternoon to supervise rescue efforts and ordered that the operation be continued throughout the night if necessary, officials said.
However, at 3 p.m. on Thursday, three bodies were discovered. Family members of the victims confirmed their identities.
‘Land melted like ice cream’
Wu Min-hao, Associate Professor at the National University of Kaohsiung’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was quoted by Apple Daily as saying that, while the landslide was triggered by torrential rains, “the land on which the house was constructed was not suitable for a two-story building.”
Wu said that the ground in the area was composed of mudstone, a type of sedimentary rock that becomes hard when it’s dry, but sticky and soft when it is exposed to water.
As torrential rains lashed the hillside, the ground began to give way and slid down the slope “like how ice cream melts,” he said.
Furthermore, its “stickiness” made rescue efforts even more difficult because machines and manpower were likely to sink into the earth.
He warned that the local government should proactively intervene in areas “currently occupied by residents but which lack administrative supervisory” to prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future.
Article source: http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/local/kaohsiung/2016/09/30/479797/Rescuers-find.htm