Taiwan earthquake: Magnitude-6.4 quake leaves at least seven dead, 67 people missing

Taiwan earthquake: Magnitude-6.4 quake leaves at least seven dead, 67 people missing

Taiwan earthquake: Magnitude-6.4 quake leaves at least seven dead, 67 people missing

Updated 8 February 2018, 6:20 AEDT

Rescuers are combing the rubble of collapsed buildings, in a search for about 67 people missing after a strong earthquake killed at least seven near Taiwan's popular tourist city of Hualien.

Key points:

  • One Taiwanese was pulled out alive from Marshal Hotel, with another declared dead
  • Among the injured were mainland Chinese, Czech, Japanese, Singaporean and South Korean nationals
  • Aftershocks with a magnitude of at least 5.0 could rock the island in the next two weeks

The magnitude 6.4-quake, which hit near the coastal city just before midnight (local time) on Tuesday, also injured 260 people and collapsed four buildings, officials said.

Another magnitude 5.7-quake took place near Hualien on Wednesday, the Government said, the same area as the day before and where recovery efforts were ongoing.

Hualien Mayor Fu Kun-chi earlier said the number of people missing from Tuesday's quake was close to 60. As many as 150 were initially feared missing.

Many of the missing were believed to be still trapped inside buildings, some of which were tilting precariously, after the quake hit about 22 kilometres north-east of Hualien on Taiwan's east coast.

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

Among the injured were mainland Chinese, Czech, Japanese, Singaporean and South Korean nationals.

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

"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 about 40,000 homes left without water and about 1,900 without power.

Water supply had returned to nearly 5,000 homes by noon (local time), while power was restored to about 1,700 households.

12-storey building tilts at a 40-degree angle

Emergency workers surrounded a badly damaged 12-storey residential building, a major focus of the rescue effort.

Windows had collapsed and the building was wedged into the ground at a roughly 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 a damaged military hospital.

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

A video showed large cracks in the road, while police and emergency services tried to help anxious people roaming the streets.

A car sat submerged in rubble as rescue workers combed through the ruins of a nearby building.

President Tsai Ing-wen went to the scene of the quake early on Wednesday to help direct rescue operations.

"The President has asked the cabinet and related ministries to immediately launch the 'disaster mechanism' and to work at the fastest rate on disaster relief work," Mr Tsai's office said in a statement.

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

Reuters

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