Close  
  • share this

Rescuers scour toppled buildings after Taiwan quake kills four

/ 02:09 PM February 07, 2018
Rescue workers block off the area to search for survivors outside a building which tilted to one side after its foundation collapsed in Hualien after a strong 6.4-magnitude quake rocked eastern Taiwan early on February 7, 2018. The 6.4-magnitude earthquake on the east coast of Taiwan has left two dead and more than 200 injured, the government said on February 7, after buildings crumbled and trapped people inside.  / AFP PHOTO / Paul YANG

Rescue workers block off the area to search for survivors outside a building which tilted to one side after its foundation collapsed in Hualien after a strong 6.4-magnitude quake rocked eastern Taiwan early on February 7, 2018.
The 6.4-magnitude earthquake on the east coast of Taiwan has left two dead and more than 200 injured, the government said on February 7, after buildings crumbled and trapped people inside. / AFP PHOTO / Paul YANG

Rescue workers scrambled to search for survivors in buildings left tilting precariously on their foundations in the Taiwanese city of Hualien Wednesday, after an overnight earthquake killed four and injured more than 200.

Authorities said they could not verify how many residents were still missing after the 6.4-magnitude quake which hit the popular tourist city late Tuesday.

ADVERTISEMENT

Rescue efforts were focused early Wednesday on the Yun Tsui residential building, which also housed a restaurant, shops and a hostel. The quake left the 12-storey building leaning to one side, its lower floors pancaked.

The national fire agency said 143 residents from the building remained unaccounted for but it was not immediately clear whether those missing were trapped inside the building or not.

FEATURED STORIES

READ: Deadly earthquake strikes Taiwan’s east coast

One local who lives nearby told AFP how he watched the tower block partially collapse.

“I saw the first floor sink into the ground. Then it sunk and tilted further and the fourth floor became the first floor,” said Lu Chih-son, 35, who saw 20 people rescued from the building.

“My family were unhurt, but a neighbor was injured in their head and is bleeding. We dare not go back home now. There are many aftershocks and we are worried the house is damaged,” he told AFP.

Chen Chih-wei, 80, said he was sleeping in his apartment on the top floor of the building when the quake struck.

A damaged vehicle stands in rubble outside the Marshal Hotel in Hualien, eastern Taiwan early February 7, 2018, after a strong earthquake struck the island. A hotel on the east coast of Taiwan has collapsed after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake, the government said. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL YANG / Taiwan OUT

A damaged vehicle stands in rubble outside the Marshal Hotel in Hualien, eastern Taiwan early February 7, 2018, after a strong earthquake struck the island.
A hotel on the east coast of Taiwan has collapsed after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake, the government said. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL YANG / Taiwan OUT

“My bed turned completely vertical, I was sleeping and suddenly I was standing,” he told AFP.

He said he managed to crawl his way to a balcony to wait for rescue, adding that the quake was the strongest he had felt in more than five decades of living in Hualien.

ADVERTISEMENT

Cranes prop up building

President Tsai Ing-wen visited the site Wednesday morning, where officials were going room by room looking for anyone trapped inside.

“Now is the prime time for our rescue efforts, our first priority is to save people,” she said in a Facebook post.

Four mobile cranes had been brought in on the back of trucks to help prop up the structure, an AFP reporter on the scene said.

Liu Yan-hu, from the Hualien County Architects Association, told Apple Daily it looked like the building’s main structure was intact.

Five more buildings including a hospital and a hotel were also damaged in the city, where roads were ripped apart and strewn with rubble.

The national fire agency said four people had been killed across the city with 225 injured.

Hualien is one of Taiwan’s most popular tourist hubs as it lies on the picturesque east coast rail line and near to the popular Taroko Gorge.

Frequent aftershocks left some residents stranded in the open as they feared going back into buildings. Authorities said 830 people were in shelters Wednesday morning and some 1,900 houses were without power.

Officials also said 214 people had been injured in the quake, with 117 people rescued from damaged buildings so far.

The severely damaged Marshal Hotel had also crumpled into the ground as its bottom storeys disappeared.

“The lower floors sunk into the ground and I saw panicked tourists being rescued from the hotel,” eyewitness Blue Hsu told AFP.

Quake anniversary

The quake hit just before midnight around 21 kilometers (13 miles) northeast of Hualien, according to the United States Geological Survey.

It followed almost 100 smaller tremors to have hit the area in the last three days and comes exactly two years since a quake of the same magnitude struck the southern Taiwanese city of Tainan, killing more than 100 people.

Most of the deaths from the February 2016 earthquake were from the 16-storey Wei-kuan apartment complex, which toppled on its side and buried many residents in the rubble.

It was the only high-rise in Tainan to crumble completely in the quake, which came two days before Lunar New Year, when many people were visiting relatives for the biggest celebration of the Chinese calendar.

The safety of the building was called into question immediately after the disaster, when metal cans and foam were found to have been used as fillers in the concrete and residents said there had been cracks in the structure.

Five people were found guilty and sentenced to five years imprisonment over the disaster, including the developer and two architects, with prosecutors saying they “cut corners” that affected the building’s structural integrity.

Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is regularly hit by earthquakes.

The island’s worst tremor in recent decades was a 7.6 magnitude quake in September 1999 that killed around 2,400 people.

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: building, damage, Earthquake, Hualien, injury, killed, Quake, Taiwan
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.



© Copyright 1997-2018 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.