Taipei, Feb 26 (AFP) The last two victims of an earthquake that hit the Taiwan tourist hotspot of Hualien three weeks ago have finally been removed from the rubble of a collapsed hotel.Also Read - Here's Why Quad Summit Is Crucial And What World Can Expect Of It

The Chinese couple from Beijing who were on a sightseeing trip had already been named among the 17 dead after a 6.4-magnitude quake toppled buildings in the coastal town. Also Read - Amid Afghanistan Crisis, China, Taliban Hold First Diplomatic Talks In War-Torn Kabul

But their bodies remained in a second-floor hotel in the 12-storey Yun Tsui building, which was left leaning at around a 50-degree angle by the quake, complicating rescue efforts due to fears of an imminent collapse. Also Read - China Sounds COVID-19 Alarm as Delta Variant Spreads to 18 Provinces With Fresh Cases in Beijing

Emergency workers had combed through rubble at the foot of the mainly residential block since the quake struck the eastern city on February 6, retrieving the last two bodies Sunday.

Three other members of the couple’s family were also killed in the quake. Of the 17 people who died, 14 perished in the Yun Tsui building.

Hualien mayor Fu Kun-chi had 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 six days after the quake hit.

Excavators began digging through the building from the top to recover the bodies.

Hualien county government said the bodies of the Chinese couple had been sent to a local funeral parlor and their relatives had been informed.

Three partially collapsed buildings in Hualien are being demolished, including the local landmark Marshal Hotel where one employee was killed.

Hualien, on Taiwan’s rugged east coast, is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the quake-prone island.

Taiwan’s worst quake in recent decades was a 7.6-magnitude tremor in September 1999 that killed around 2,400 people.

The disaster ushered in stricter building codes but many of Taiwan’s older buildings remain perilously vulnerable to even moderate quakes.(AFP) AMS –

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.