May 21, 2018

7 dead, 260 injured after major 6.4 quake hits Taiwan's east coast

09 February 2018, 02:04 | Ken Black

Residents take shelter at a local stadium after an earthquake in Hualien Taiwan

Residents take shelter at a local stadium after an earthquake in Hualien Taiwan

Rescue workers in Taiwan are continuing to look for 7 people who may still be trapped in a damaged 12-story building in the eastern city of Hualien.

The national fire agency said seven people had been killed across the city, and 260 were injured.

The 6.4-magnitude quake was recorded at 11:50 p.m., and was centered about 14 miles northeast of Hualien, a city of 110,000 on Taiwan's east coast, the United States Geological Survey reported.

A hotel employee died when the ground floor caved in at the Marshal Hotel, and another person died in a residential building, the agency reported.

Meanwhile, 600 military personnel and more than 750 firefighters combed through rubble and helped with rescue efforts, according to Taiwan's Central Emergency Operation Center.

Chen Deming, president of the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, said the mainland is willing to assist with the quake relief, including sending rescue teams to the island.

The biggest natural disaster in recent memory was a 7.3 temblor that killed 2,400 people in 1999. The shaking was felt across Taiwan, but in Hualien the force was disastrous, collapsing walls and leaving buildings resting at alarming angles.

Bridges and some roadways remain closed until inspections prove they are safe for travel, although local airports and rail services remain fully operational.

Authorities have provided aid and shelter to the displaced people while the families of the victims have been given compensation. Rescue workers could be seen climbing ladders as they sought to rescue residents trapped on the upper floors.

The government said a magnitude-5.7 quake took place late Wednesday near the popular tourist city of Hualien, where a strong, shallow, magnitude-6.4 quake struck late Tuesday night.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world's largest contract chipmaker and major Apple supplier, said initial assessments indicated no impact from the natural disaster.

Hualien is home to about 100000 people. "So we can't use large machinery for fear that the people there might be harmed if the machinery happens to damage or collapse the structure", said rescuer Wang Ming-chung. It occurred at a depth of about 9.5 kilometers (6 miles).

The natural disaster followed one over the weekend off the coast of Hualien, which lies along the famed "Pacific Rim of Fire" known for seismic activity from Alaska to Southeast Asia.

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