Following the major hit of the quake 22 km northeast of Hualien, several people are believed to be trapped inside buildings – many of which were tilting precariously.
At six people died, 258 injured – even as rescuers keep searching for 60 people missing – after a strong earthquake, measuring 6.4 magnitude hit near and centered 14 miles northeast of Taiwan’s Hualien, hit the coastal city just before midnight on Tuesday.
While 150 people were initially feared missing, Hualien Mayor Fu Kun-Chi said in his latest statement that the number of people missing was now close to 60. Following the major hit of the quake 22 km northeast of Hualien, several people are believed to be trapped inside buildings – many of which were tilting precariously.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who visited the scene of disaster on Wednesday, shared a post on Twitter, saying, “Thank you to our first responders for their tireless efforts in #Hualien. Rescue operations have been continuing night & day. Right now 145 people remain unaccounted for — we will not rest until all are found.”
With mainland Chinese, Czech, Japanese, Singaporean and South Korean nationals being among the people affected mostly in the quake, volunteer Yang Hsi Hua said, “This is the worst earthquake in the history of Hualien, or at least over the past 40 years that I’ve been alive. 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.”
And while small tremors kept residents tense throughout the day, the government hinted that there might be more aftershocks with a magnitude of at least 2.0 in the next two week in the island.
The major focus of the emergency workers during the rescue operation was focused on a badly damaged 12-storey residential building, which was wedged into the ground at a roughly 40-degree angle.
Lin Ching-wen, who operates a restaurant near a damaged military hospital said, “We were still open when it happened. I grabbed my wife and children and we ran out and tried to rescue people.”
In a statement released on Wednesday, President Tsai’s office said, “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.”
Earlier in 2016, over 100 people were killed in an earthquake which hit southern Taiwan and more than 2000 died after a 7.6 magnitude hit the Island in 1999.
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