Rescuers pursue search for survivors in Taiwan quake

Friday, 09 Feb, 2018

Four tourists from the mainland had been confirmed dead as of Thursday morning after a magnitude-6.5 quake hit Taiwan's Hualien County.

Hualien County Commissioner Fu Kun-chi (傅崐萁) said that rescue work at the Marshal Hotel (統帥飯店) and two apartment buildings on Guosheng 6th Street - the three other most severely damaged buildings in the city - was completed yesterday, adding that rescue work at the Yun Men Tsui Ti building was ongoing.

The Central Disaster Response Center this evening, February 8, said that the current death toll from the Hualien quake now stands at 10, with 272 injured, and seven missing.

Sixty-two people remain missing, likely trapped under the rubble of the residential-commercial Yunmen Cuidi building, which was tilting at an angle of nearly 45 degrees, and the Meliun Hotel. Four buildings collapsed, officials said, and those confirmed to have been killed included five locals, four mainland Chinese, and a Filipina.

More than 220 aftershocks followed the main quake, including a 5.7 quake late on Wednesday.

Taiwan has frequent earthquakes due to its position along the "Ring of Fire", the seismic faults encircling the Pacific Ocean where most of the world's earthquakes occur. Rescuers said it is hard for them to enter the building.

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

Taiwan, a self-ruled island that China considers part of its territory, lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is prone to earthquakes. "Then it sunk and tilted further and the fourth floor became the first floor", one local resident, who was nearby when the main natural disaster struck overnight Tuesday, .

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Of the victims, four came from the Chinese mainland and one from the Philippines.

President Tsai Ing-wen was at the scene of the quake on Wednesday morning, where she visited hospitals and relief centres.

A 60-year-old woman said the quake destroyed a cupboard, chest of drawers, and TV set in her home.

It said the team is headed to Hualien, Taiwan to facilitate the handling of the remains.

More than 100 people were killed in a quake in southern Taiwan in 2016, and in 1999, a quake of magnitude 7.6 killed more than 2,000 people.

"Someone was waiting for me outside, (saying), 'Give me your hand, ' and pulled me out", she said.

The government said 17 foreigners sought medical treatment for minor injuries.

With aftershocks continuing to hit after the quake, residents were directed to shelters, including a newly built baseball stadium, where beds and hot food were provided.