Search suspended for S’poreans missing in Taiwan quake after rocks fall on search team

Search suspended for safety of rescuers, Singaporeans are the last two people still missing

12 days after Taiwan experienced its strongest earthquake in 25 years, a Singaporean couple who went sightseeing there is still missing.

Unfortunately, the search for Neo Siew Choo and Sim Hwee Kok has reportedly been suspended for safety reasons.

Source: Facebook

This came after several aftershocks hit the trail where they went missing, causing rocks to rain down on rescuers.

Search team encounters falling rocks

In a Facebook post on Friday (12 April), the Hualien County Fire Department (HLCFD) said its personnel went searching for the missing couple at the Shakadang Trail in Taroko National Park that day.

However, they encountered falling rocks at around the 2.2km mark of the trail.

Source: Hualien County Fire Department on Facebook

The largest boulder was about the size of a car, it added.

Source: Hualien County Fire Department on Facebook

Thankfully, all the search workers and dogs managed to escape safely.

On Saturday (13 April) morning, rocks again fell on search personnel at the Shakadang Trail, HLCFD told Taiwan’s United Daily News (UDN).

They were forced to jump into a river to avoid getting hit.

Source: Hualien County Fire Department via United Daily News

Search for missing Singaporeans suspended for safety of teams

HLCFD noted that several instances of falling rocks had occurred at the Shakadang Trail over the past few days due to aftershocks.

As the area isn’t suitable for search teams to enter at the moment, search operations would be suspended for the safety of the crew members.

The decision was taken with agreement from the family members of the missing couple, the department added.

Search operations will be resumed when there’s no more danger in the area and new evidence of the couple’s whereabouts is available.

Couple last seen alighting from tour bus at trail

According to CCTV images, the couple boarded a tour bus heading to the popular scenic area at about 6.30am on 3 April.

They alighted from the bus at Shakadang Trail at 7.20am — about 40 minutes before the 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck south of Hualien city.

Source: Taiwan National Fire Agency via ABC News

After more than a week of rescue efforts, the two Singaporeans are the only remaining people whose whereabouts are still unaccounted for, according to UDN.

They are feared to have been buried alive at the Shakadang Trail.

The death toll from the earthquake stands at 17 so far.

Family of missing Singaporeans conduct tearful ceremony at trail

The couple’s family members, who had travelled to Taiwan for the search, conducted a “soul-summoning” ritual at the entrance to Shakadang Trail on Sunday (14 April) morning, reported Next Apple News.

Source: Hualien County Government via Next Apple News

They were accompanied by county personnel including County Magistrate Hsu Chen-wei, who came to send her condolences to the families and make an incense offering.

Source: ETToday

During the emotional ritual, presided over by a priest, the family members tearfully called the couple’s names and asked them to “come home”.

Also read: Missing S’porean couple alighted earlier on hiking trail before Taiwan earthquake, search ongoing

Missing S’porean couple alighted earlier on hiking trail before Taiwan earthquake, search ongoing

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Featured image adapted from ETToday and Hualien County Fire Department on Facebook.

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