Date
21 May 2018
Rescuers search for survivors trapped inside a damaged building that had tilted precariously in Hualien on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters
Rescuers search for survivors trapped inside a damaged building that had tilted precariously in Hualien on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters

New quake shakes Taiwan’s Hualien as death toll rises

Taiwan was hit by an earthquake of 5.7 magnitude on the eastern coast of the island, Reuters reports, citing a government statement.

The government said the earthquake took place late on Wednesday near Hualien, the same area as a strong quake on Tuesday and where recovery efforts are still ongoing.

The US Geological Survey said the quake was 21 kilometers northeast of the city at a depth of 11 km.

At least seven people were killed and 67 were still missing from the earthquake in the popular tourist city of Hualien as of late Wednesday, the statement said.

Many of the missing were believed to be still trapped inside buildings, some of which tilted precariously, Reuters said.

At the city’s Marshal Hotel, rescuers trying to free two trapped Taiwanese pulled one out alive, but the other person was declared dead, the government said.

Mainland Chinese, Czech, Japanese, Singaporean and South Korean nationals were among the injured.

“This is the worst earthquake in the history of Hualien, or at least over the past 40 years that I’ve been alive,” said volunteer Yang Hsi Hua.

“We’ve never had anything like this, we’ve never had a building topple over. Also, it was constantly shaking, so everyone was really scared, we ran to empty open spaces to avoid it.”

Aftershocks with a magnitude of at least 5.0 could rock the island in the next two weeks, the government said. Smaller tremors rattled nervous residents throughout the day.

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.

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CG

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