Taiwan in rubble hunt

Rescuers combed the rubble of collapsed buildings on Wednesday, in a search for about 60 people missing after a strong earthquake killed at least six near Taiwan's popular tourist city of Hualien.

  • Published 8.02.18
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Rescue workers prepare to search for survivors outside a building which tilted to one side after its foundation collapsed in Hualien, Taiwan. (AFP)

Hualien, Taiwan: Rescuers combed the rubble of collapsed buildings on Wednesday, in a search for about 60 people missing after a strong earthquake killed at least six near Taiwan's popular tourist city of Hualien.

The magnitude 6.4 quake, which hit near the coastal city just before 1600 GMT on Tuesday, also injured 258 people and collapsed four buildings, officials said.

Hualien mayor Fu Kun-chi said the number of people missing was now close to 60, although an exact figure was not provided. 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 22km northeast 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," 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."

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. Reuters

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