High-rise tower builder under scanner as Taiwan says toll could exceed 100

Residents had raised many complaints about the building as multiple cracks had developed after recent tremors.

Rescuers are racing against time to dig up surviving victims of the Taiwan earthquake from under the rubble even as officials have warned the toll could exceed 100.

"There are more fatalities than those pulled out (alive), and the number of fatalities will probably exceed 100," Tainan Mayor William Lai said, according to Reuters.

Two more survivors were pulled out from under the rubble on Monday, with the government confirming the toll was at least 35. A least 100 residents of the 17-storey residential tower that toppled were still listed as missing.

The government said as many as 33 of the 35 dead where from the colla[sed tower, the Weiguan Jinlong building in Tainan.

The 6.4 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.

Emergency workers saved around half a dozen people through Sunday, cutting through steel and concrete, and responding to faint sounds of people alive, Focus Taiwan reported.

However, they said dozens more of survivors were unlikely to survive a second night in low temperatures without food or water.

Meanwhile Taiwanese officials have started an investigation into the possible building rule violations in the tower that crumbled like a cookie.

"I've contacted judicial units and prosecutors have formally launched an investigation," Tainan mayor William Lai said, according to AsiaOne.

The daily said, citing local media, said there was sharp focus on the construction quality the high-rise that collapsed. Reports said the builder had gone out of business and there were questions about the quality of building materials used.

"We've also commissioned three independent bodies to preserve evidence during the rescue so we can assist the residents if they want to file lawsuits in the future. We will hold the builder responsible if they have broken the law," the mayor added.

Local reports said residents had raised many complaints in the past about the building as multiple cracks had developed in the building after recent tremors.

Around 200 people were living in the high-rise apartment complex.