Dozens of people trapped in tunnels after Taiwan earthquake, death toll at 9

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Taiwan Fire Department, via EPA
Rescue workers in a building in Hualien, which was hardest hit by the earthquake

NOS Newstoday, 2:10 PM

Rescue work is in full swing in Taiwan after last night’s major earthquake. The death toll now stands at nine, but may rise. Rescue workers search damaged and partially collapsed buildings for victims and survivors.

Dozens of people remain trapped in tunnels around the coastal city of Hualien. It is not clear how they are doing. The exits are blocked by boulders or landslides. Images show that bulldozers are trying to clear the roads again. There are also six people trapped in a coal mine.

Taiwanese authorities report that more than 900 people have been injured. According to Taiwan, the quake had a magnitude of 7.2 and was followed by several aftershocks. It is the strongest earthquake on the island since 1999.

Fifty hotel employees

In a national park near the city of Hualien, there is no contact with fifty hotel employees. They were traveling with four minibuses. Authorities do not know their condition because telephone networks have been paralyzed by the earthquake.

Three of the fatalities died in that national park. They were part of a group of seven hikers who were hit by boulders.

The drivers of a truck and a car were also killed by falling rocks. Another victim died due to unknown circumstances at a mine.

The epicenter was about 18 kilometers south of the city of Hualien:

NOS

The quake also damaged the railway line along Taiwan’s east coast. The damage is currently being repaired and it is hoped that the route can be put back into use tomorrow.

The EU, Japan and Paraguay, among others, have offered help. China also quickly made an offer of help, but this was rejected by Taiwan. Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province and this leads to high tensions.

After the quake, a tsunami warning was issued in Japan and the Philippines, among others, but the waves did not exceed a few tens of centimeters.

These are images of the damage after the earthquake:

Major earthquake hits Taiwan

Despite the heavy quake, the death toll in Taiwan appears to remain relatively limited. According to seismologist Stephen Gao of the University of Missouri, the island is well prepared for such natural disasters.

Gao told the AP that Taiwan leads the world in protection against earthquakes. “Strict building regulations apply, the network of seismometers is world-class and there are extensive earthquake awareness campaigns.” Residents who want to check how earthquake-resistant their home is can receive a subsidy for this.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Dozens people trapped tunnels Taiwan earthquake death toll

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