Taiwan rescuers are searching for dozens of people missing after a deadly earthquake hit the east coast of the island.
The 6.4 magnitude struck on Tuesday at 11.50 pm and the shaking was felt all over Taiwan, but the force was high and disastrous in Hualien, collapsing walls, leaving the buildings at alarming angles. The rescuers are searching today on Wednesday among the damaged buildings for people in huge numbers who are missing after the earthquake.
In fact, nearly 40 are feared to be trapped in the Hualien northeastern city multi-story building. The 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck 13 miles (22 kilometres) on Tuesday, injuring 258 and more people, killing not less than seven people. The bridges are damaged and the roads are buckled.
Most people missing were trapped in large buildings with both apartments and businesses in downtown Hualien. The glass Yun Men Tsui Ti and grey tile building, sitting adjacent to the park along the Meilun River, had a small hotel, apartments and a hot pot restaurant. The authorities believe it had more than 200 people during the quake in the building and that is now flattened parts of its lower levels, while it is leaning to the left precariously. Four bodies died were pulled from the building, same as other dozens of survivors.
President Tsai Ing-wen, came to the disaster scene on Wednesday and said “Thank you to our first responders for their tireless efforts in #Hualien,” and wrote on Twitter. “Rescue operations are continuing night & day. Right now nearly 145 people remain unaccounted though we will not rest until all are found.”
The missing numbers dropped from 145 to 88 by 3 pm as the survivors were hauled from damaged buildings and the officials lowered the count of people. The missing estimate was anticipated to further drop after some buildings were searched, but found none. Now, officials said, the injured count was more than 250.
Video from the quake site showed smoke rising on Wednesday from the collapsed buildings as firefighters patrolled the rubble-covered streets. Steel supports were used by rescuers to pull up the buildings and their efforts halted as the supports and the building tilted further, said local officials.
Another building bottom floors, the Marshal Hotel, also collapsed. Two are missing, one person was killed, officials said.
Taiwan sits at the Philippine Sea tectonic plate intersection that is moving west three inches a year, and the Eurasian plate extends east from mainland China. This is an area of frequent seismic activity and experiences commonly earthquakes.
Dozens of aftershocks continued and shook the city with 600 military personnel and over 750 firefighters were combing through the rubble in rescue efforts, according to Taiwan’s central emergency centre.
Nine Japanese nationals were injured, taken to the hospital, but all are released. In total, 31 foreigners were affected, making a count of 14 South Koreans, two Czechs, nine Japanese, two Singaporeans, and one Filipino.
Hualien is a famous tourist destination located close to Taroko Gorge, Taiwan. The local residents in hundreds have lost home in the earthquake and are now at the Hualien Stadium sheltered, provided by relief organizations with emergency supplies.
The quake that struck Tuesday late in the East China Sea, north of Hualien, housed more than 350,000 people. The temblor was felt at Taipei, the island’s capital that is around 120 kilometres to the north, reports US Geological Survey.
There were nearly 15 aftershocks at 4.8 magnitudes on Wednesday morning shaking the area. This island regularly is rocked by an earthquake and in 2016 it was hit with 6.4 magnitudes killing 40; while in 1999, a 7.3 temblor was the biggest killing 2400 people.
According to emergency operations centre Taiwan, 1,900 households in the wake of the quake lost power; most are restored by Wednesday morning.
However, tens of thousands of residents are without water, said the centre, estimating at least 35,000 are not having their service restored.