World

Taiwan: Rescuers search for people trapped after earthquake

Nine people died and more than 1,000 were injured in Wednesday’s tremor.

A police officer stands guard near a partially collapsed building a day after a powerful earthquake struck in Hualien City, eastern Taiwan (Chiang Ying-ying/AP)
Taiwan Earthquake A police officer stands guard near a partially collapsed building a day after a powerful earthquake struck in Hualien City, eastern Taiwan (Chiang Ying-ying/AP) (ChiangYing-ying/AP)

Rescuers have been searching for dozens of people after an earthquake in Taiwan which killed nine people.

More than 1,000 people were injured in the earthquake on Wednesday morning.

Of the nine dead, at least four were killed in Taroko National Park, a tourist attraction famous for its scenes of canyons and cliffs in Hualien County, about 90 miles from the island’s capital Taipei.

Nearly 150 people were either still trapped or out of contact on Thursday, the National Fire Agency said.

About two dozen tourists and some others were stranded in the park while the health and welfare ministry said 64 others were workers at a rock quarry.

Six workers from another quarry were airlifted from the area where access was cut off because roads were damaged by falling rocks.

Several people, including six university students, were also reported to be trapped. Around 50 people, mostly employees at a hotel reported to be in the national park, were out of contact with authorities.

People evacuated from their homes sit outside the shelter after the main earthquake in Hualien City (Chiang Ying-ying/AP)
Taiwan Earthquake People evacuated from their homes sit outside the shelter after the main earthquake in Hualien City (Chiang Ying-ying/AP) (ChiangYing-ying/AP)

In the eastern coastal city of Hualien near the epicentre, workers used an excavator to put construction materials around the base of a damaged building to stabilise it and prevent a collapse.

Mayor Hsu Chen-wei previously said 48 residential buildings were damaged, some of which were tilted at precarious angles with their ground floors crushed.

Taiwan measured the initial quake’s strength as 7.2 magnitude while the US Geological Survey put it at 7.4. The Central Weather Administration has recorded more than 300 aftershocks from Wednesday morning into Thursday.

The island is regularly jolted by earthquakes and its population is among the best prepared for them. It also had stringent construction requirements to ensure buildings are quake-resistant.

A man looks at the cordoned off site of a leaning building in the aftermath of an earthquake in Hualien (Chiang Ying-ying/AP)
Taiwan Earthquake A man looks at the cordoned off site of a leaning building in the aftermath of an earthquake in Hualien (Chiang Ying-ying/AP) (Chiang Ying-ying/AP)

The economic losses caused by the quake are still unclear. The self-ruled island is the leading manufacturer of the world’s most sophisticated computer chips and other high-technology items that are sensitive to seismic events.

Hualien was last struck by a deadly quake in 2018 that killed 17 people and brought down a historic hotel.

Taiwan’s worst recent quake on September 21 1999 saw a magnitude 7.7 tremor cause 2,400 deaths, injuring around 100,000 and destroying thousands of buildings.