Taipei, Feb. 11 (CNA) Taiwan expressed thanks Sunday to the international community for statements of concern and offers of assistance following a magnitude 6.0 earthquake that shook the eastern county of Hualien on Feb. 6, killing at least 16 and injuring 285.
In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its heartfelt appreciation on behalf of the government and people of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to the countries and international organizations that conveyed their concern, condolences and offered assistance following the earthquake.
"This fully demonstrates the strong friendship toward Taiwan," said the ministry.
As of 5 p.m. Saturday, a total of 63 countries, as well as the Central American Integration System, the Central American Parliament, the European Union, and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States had conveyed concern and expressed a willingness to provide relief or send rescue teams to Taiwan, the ministry said.
Efforts to locate any further bodies trapped in the rubble of the Yun Men Tsui Ti building were officially ended at about 10 a.m. Sunday, 106 hours after the earthquake shook Hualien.
In front of the building, one of four that partially collapsed in Hualien City during the earthquake, rescue personnel bowed their heads as a mark of respect before withdrawing from the site to allow heavy machinery to start razing the building.
A total of 17 people are believed to have died in the earthquake, including two Chinese visitors from a family of five killed during the temblor, whose bodies were not retrieved from the site.
One was trapped under fallen steel pillars and the second has not yet been found, according to rescue workers, which is why the official death count remains 16.