Rescuers in Race against Time after Deadly Taiwan Quake

Rescuers in Race against Time after Deadly Taiwan Quake

Wednesday, 7 February, 2018 - 08:00
A police officer stands guard outside a damaged building after an earthquake hit Hualien, Taiwan February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Asharq Al-Awsat
Rescuers pulled survivors and bodies from buildings tilting precariously in the Taiwanese city of Hualien Wednesday, after an overnight earthquake killed at least five, injured more than 200 and left dozens missing.

Emergency responders were focusing on a 12-story apartment block and a nearby hotel, both of which were leaning dangerously after their lower floors pancaked when the 6.4-magnitude quake hit the popular tourist city late Tuesday.

Local broadcaster TVBS showed rescuers carrying a victim covered in a white sheet from the Marshal Hotel some 14 hours after the quake struck. A walking survivor was rescued a short while later.

In an afternoon update, the national fire agency said at least five people had been killed and 247 injured across the city. But the toll could rise as rescuers discovered further bodies.

There were grave concerns for the badly leaning Yun Tsui residential building, which also housed a restaurant, shops and a hostel.

The national fire agency said 88 people were unaccounted for as of 2 pm (0600 GMT) but it was not immediately clear how many of those were trapped inside buildings. 

Dozens of residents -- and a pug dog -- were rescued with ropes and ladders from the Yun Tsui apartment block overnight. But fire department staff at the site told AFP at least four bodies had been pulled out of the building.

The quake hit just before midnight (1550 GMT) around 21 kilometers 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.

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