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Boy Survives 87 Hours in Taiwan

September 24, 1999

DALI, Taiwan (AP) _ A 6-year-old boy was freed from the rubble of an earthquake-struck apartment building today after being buried with his parents and two sisters for 87 hours.

Using their hands to remove concrete and other debris, South Korean and Japanese search and rescue teams were able to pull him out of the debris after an almost six-hour effort.

Two doctors, a Singaporean and South Korean, were inside the wrecked building treating him for possible trauma and other injuries before he was driven off to a hospital.

Searchers later found the bodies of Chang’s 33-year-old mother and his 4-year-old sister, who had died along with 19 others still inside the 12-story building. There was no immediate word on Chang’s other sister and his father.

More than 2,100 persons perished in Tuesday’s 7.6-magnitude earthquake. More than 6,000 housing units were demolished, many within high-rise structures that may have been poorly constructed.

Speaking to rescuers in a weak voice, Chang Ching-hung earlier said he could move his arms but not his body.

The teams, two of the 25 foreign rescue teams that have rushed to Taiwan’s aid, used their bare hands to pry him loose.

His aunt, who was not in the collapsed apartment, later spoke to the boy. She said he was very thirsty and asked for water. But the rescuers could not reach close enough to give him any.

They had feared that bringing in machinery might unleash a torrent of concrete and other rubble, further endangering the young survivor.

Chang’s family lived on the second floor of the high-rise apartment, the bottom floors of which collapsed and sank below street level.

Officials say more than 2,200 persons have been rescued in operations some have criticized as being too slow to get started and not professional enough.

President Lee Teng-hui, who visited the site a few hours before the boy was pulled out, has criticized lack of central coordination and inefficient use of supply and manpower in rescue operations.

But many Taiwanese teams have worked tirelessly since the earthquake struck.

Update hourly