Four killed, 145 missing after quake rocks Taiwan tourist area

Reuters | Published: 09:05, Feb 07,2018 | Updated: 10:20, Feb 07,2018

 
 

A police officer stands guard outside a damaged building after an earthquake hit Hualien, Taiwan February 7, 2018. – Reuters photo

Rescuers combed through the rubble of collapsed buildings on Wednesday, some using their hands as they searched for about 145 people missing after a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck near the popular Taiwanese tourist city of Hualien overnight.

At least four people were killed and 225 injured in the quake that hit near the coastal city just before midnight (1600 GMT) on Tuesday, officials said. The latest figures from government data indicated 145 people were missing.

Many of those were believed to be still trapped inside buildings, including a military hospital, after the quake hit about 22 km (14 miles) northeast of Hualien on Taiwan's east coast.

Aftershocks with a magnitude of at least 5.0 could rock the island in the next two weeks, the government said. Japanese, Czech and mainland Chinese nationals were among the injured.

Residents waited and watched anxiously as emergency workers dressed in fluorescent orange and red suits and wearing helmets searched for residents trapped in apartment blocks.

Hualien is home to about 100,000 people. Its streets were buckled by the force of the quake, with around 40,000 homes left without water and around 1,900 without power.

Emergency workers surrounded a damaged residential building in the area. Windows had collapsed and the building was wedged into the ground at a 40-degree angle.

Rescuers worked their way around and through the building while residents looked on from behind cordoned-off roads. Others spoke of the panic when the earthquake struck.

‘We were still open when it happened,’ said Lin Ching-wen, who operates a restaurant near the military hospital.

‘I grabbed my wife and children and we ran out and tried to rescue people,’ he said.

The government said two bridges in the city were either cracked or could not be used due to the quake.

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 struck nearby on Sunday.

Taiwan, a self-ruled island that China considers part of its territory, is prone to earthquakes.

More than 100 were killed in a quake in southern Taiwan in 2016, and some Taiwanese remain scarred by a 1999 earthquake with 7.6 magnitude that was felt across the island and which killed more than 2,000 people

 

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