At least nine people were killed and dozens remained missing after a 6.4-magnitude quake hit the popular eastern tourist city of Hualien late Tuesday, according to a revised toll from the national fire agency.
The island's worst tremor in recent decades was a 7.6-magnitude quake in September 1999 that killed around 2,400 people.
But authorities dramatically slashed the number of missing from more than 60 people to seven by Thursday evening - five Chinese mainland nationals and a Canadian-Chinese couple.
Excavation of the Yun Men Tsui Ti building would not begin until after the rescue work has been completed and following a joint consultation meeting with the Taiwan Professional Civil Engineers Association, the National Association of Architects and the Hualien District Prosecutors' Office, Fu said.
"It tilted mostly because it was built on top of the fault, and because there were balconies on just one side of the building", he said.
Zhang Zhijun, head of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, Wednesday expressed deep sympathy to all the victims and honest regards to Taiwan compatriots who suffered, saying that people from the mainland were deeply concerned about the quake and sympathized with their Taiwan compatriots. A rescue worker told TVBS that rescuers were working to save two other employees as family members waited nearby. While most of the unaccounted for were likely to be in one residential building, the agency did not have an estimate of how many were in the building at the time. She said that whatever may happen, the hearts of all Taiwanese are with the people of Hualien.
The quake had struck at a depth of around 23 km.
One of the rescuers helping in the search for survivors near a collapsed building
Five people were later found guilty over the disaster, including the developer and two architects, for building an inadequate structure.
Speaking from a crisis center in Taipei, Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung said rail links appeared to be unaffected and the runway of Hualien airport was intact.
"We hope local people will overcome the difficulties and rebuild their homes at an early date", he said.
The Central News Agency reported that the ground floor of the Marshal Hotel, a building in Hualien district, had caved in and people were believed to be trapped inside. CNA posted photos showing a road fractured in several parts.
Taiwanese media reported that the Beautiful Life Hotel also was tilting.
The island has seen similar earthquakes as it sits in the so-called Ring of Fire, an area in the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes and volcanic activity is common.