Death toll rises; people still trapped

Death toll rises; people still trapped
Death toll rises; people still trapped

Earthquake shakes Taiwan, damaging buildings and causing a tsunami

A powerful earthquake rocked the entire island of Taiwan early Wednesday, collapsing buildings in a southern city and creating a tsunami that washed ashore on southern Japanese islands.

Fox – Ktvu

The death toll rose to nine and scores of people were missing or trapped in rubble Wednesday after a massive earthquake struck Taiwan − and authorities warned that dangerous aftershocks could rock the densely populated island nation for several more days.

Taiwan’s National Fire Agency said at least 963 people were injured when the earthquake, measured as 7.2 magnitude by Taiwan officials and 7.4 by the US Geological Survey, struck near the east coast city of Hualien at about 8 am local time. Hualien is a popular tourist destination 100 miles south of Taipei, where buildings swayed and some damage was reported. A series of aftershocks followed, reaching up to 6.5 magnitude.

Some buildings tumbled or were left leaning precariously while scores of people were trapped inside the damaged structures. An additional 70 people were trapped in a mine in Heping, northwest of Hualien. Hundreds of thousands of terrified residents lost power as landslides rolled across highways. The temblor set off a tsunami warning for southern Japan and the Philippines that was later lifted.

“It was very strong. It felt as if the house was going to topple,” said Chang Yu-lin, 60, a worker in a hospital in the capital of Taipei.


∎ Many aftershocks rolled across the country within five hours of the quake. Wu Chien-fu, director of Taiwan’s Seismology Center, said aftershocks reaching 7.0 could shake the nation of 23 million people for three or four more days.

∎ Wu said an investigation is underway to determine why not all Taiwanese received a nationwide alert issued following the quake.

∎ There was no tsunami threat to Hawaii, the US Pacific territory of Guam or the west coast of North America, the US National Tsunami Warning Center said.

Earthquake rocks Taiwan: Strongest temblor in 25 years

Taiwan, prone to earthquakes, sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where 90% of the world’s temblors take place. Emergency services are prepared for quake rescue and recovery. Social media videos showed rescuers using ladders to help trapped people out of windows. Buildings could be seen collapsing onto streets as landslides swept across roads and highways. Bridges swayed and items on shelves splattered onto the ground. Some damage was reported to the Taipei subway system, which closed briefly before resuming partial service.

“At present the most important thing, the top priority, is to rescue people,” said President-elect Lai Ching-te, speaking outside one of collapsed buildings in Hualien.

The quake shook Taipei, knocking out power in several parts of the city. Elsewhere, authorities said they had lost contact with 50 travelers aboard four minibuses heading to a hotel in a national park, Taroko Gorge.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said the military will be deployed to help with rescue and recovery operations. She pledged that federal and local governments would cooperate with each other to “minimize the impact of the disasters.”

Wu said the quake’s epicenter was very shallow and close to land, the result of movement in the Philippine Sea Plate. He said it felt strong in Taipei because of the “basin effect,” which occurs when earthquake reverberations become trapped in soft ground.

The quake was Taiwan’s largest since the 1999 Jiji earthquake that killed over 2,400 people and injured 11,300 more.

Contributing: Reuters

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Death toll rises people trapped


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