2 dead in taiwan earthquake
Rescue personnel work at the site where a 17-storey apartment building collapsed, after an earthquake in Tainan, southern Taiwan, February 6, 201 Reuters

The death toll in the powerful earthquake that toppled a 17-storey apartment building in southern Taiwan has risen to 14.

Authorities fear about 150 people are still trapped in the rubble even as rescue teams pulled out more than 100 people to safety.

The tremor happened early in the morning on Saturday as residents were sleeping, heightening fears more could be trapped under the rubble.

Taiwanese officials said rescue teams have pulled out around 120 people to safety using mounted hydraulic ladder and cranes, Reuters reported.

According to a BBC report some 200 people were living in the high-rise apartment complex.

The tremor was a shallow one -- at a depth of 23 km -- the US Geological Survey (USGS) said. The epicenter of the quake was 43 km southeast of Tainan, it said.

Many other buildings in the city tilted in the tremor but Taiwanese officials suggested there were no other building collapses.

"I was watching TV and after a sudden burst of shaking, I heard a boom. I opened my metal door and saw the building opposite fall down," an eyewitness told Reuters.

Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau said several aftershocks were felt in Tainan.

In 1999, 7.6 magnitude earthquake in central Taiwan had caused widespread destruction in the city of 2 million, killing than 2,300 people.