Asia

Taiwan launches database on areas vulnerable to quake damage

Earthquake-prone Taiwan is launching a database to inform residents which areas might be susceptible to creating potentially catastrophic sinkholes in the event of a quake.

The Central Geological Survey's research tool that debuted Monday shows the potential for soil liquefaction, in which the ground subsides, endangering buildings above.

The phenomenon is believed to have caused a 17-story apartment building in the southern city of Tainan to topple after a magnitude-6.4 quake struck on Feb. 6.

The system sends color-coded alerts to computers and smartphones.

Most at risk are low-lying areas with sandy soil or which have silted up over time or been filled in artificially. About three-quarters of Taiwan is covered by mountains ranging as high as almost 4,000 meters (13,000 feet), limiting the potential subsidence danger.