Rescuers scramble to find dozens of people trapped after earthquake in Taiwan
Unioncom/VCG/Getty Images(HUALIEN, Taiwan) — As night fell over Taiwan’s coastal city of Hualien on Wednesday, at least 67 people were still missing or unaccounted for after a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck the region late Tuesday night, toppling buildings and killing seven people.
Another 258 people have been injured and about 31,000 households were without water Wednesday as strong aftershocks continued to rattle the city, according to the Taiwan National Disaster Response Center.
Search and rescue teams have been working around the clock at the site of four collapsed buildings since the earthquake struck Hualien at about 11:50 p.m. local time Tuesday night.
Heavy afternoon rain hampered rescue efforts at the once-12-story Yun Men Tsui Ti building, which has been tilting at a precarious angle in danger of utter collapse, Taiwanese newspaper Apple Daily reported. Parts of the first four floors buckled during the quake, resulting in the tilt.
At one point, the Yun Men Tsui Ti building was tilting an additional 2 inches each hour, according to Apple Daily. At least 53 people were still reported missing inside as of Wednesday, including 13 at a bed-and-breakfast called the Beauty Inn located on the lower floors of the commercial and residential building.
Meanwhile, first responders attempted to free two employees trapped in the lobby of the city’s Marshal Hotel. The first two floors of the 41-year-old building crumpled during the earthquake, Taiwanese officials said.
Ultimately, they were able to rescue one hotel employee and recovered the body of the second. A total of 130 people were rescued from the Marshal Hotel early Wednesday morning in the hours after the quake, officials said.
The epicenter of the quake was about 5.9 miles deep and located off the coast of Taiwan, roughly 13 miles from Hualien, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
After visiting the disaster scene in Hualien on Wednesday, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen took to Twitter to thank the first responders.
Taiwan is situated along the “Ring of Fire,” the world’s most seismically active region, making the small island nation no stranger to quakes. But since Sunday, clusters of strong earthquakes have continuously shaken the city of Hualien, until the strongest one hit Tuesday night.
Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau warned Hualien residents to expect potentially strong aftershocks for the next two weeks.
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