Four people were killed, and more than 200 were injured when a 6.4-magnitude earthquake rocked the city of Hualien on the east coast of Taiwan late Tuesday night local time.
The largest tremor was recorded at 11:50 p.m. from an epicenter located about 11 miles north of Hualien City. The resulting aftershocks, which continued to be felt in the Hualien County until Wednesday morning, came from a few miles off the coast of Hualien City.
According to the national fire agency, four people were killed, while 225 were injured. Over 140 individuals have not been accounted for. Additionally, 830 people were moved to shelters on Wednesday morning, while around 1,900 houses were left without power.
The quake and the ensuing aftershocks destroyed a bridge and damaged paved roads and collapsed buildings, with at least six tall buildings tilting precariously on their sides. Rescue efforts were focused on the 12-storey Yun Tsui residential building, which tilted on its side at about a 45-degree angle. The building housed a restaurant, various shops, and a hostel.
One witness said the building sunk to the ground due to the earthquake. “I saw the first floor sink into the ground,” said 35-year-old Lu Chih-son. “Then it sunk and tilted further and the fourth floor became the first floor.”
Four mobile cranes have been brought to the area to help prop the structure up with metal posts, as rescuers went room by room looking for people that may have been trapped inside the building.
“At first it wasn’t that big. We get this sort of thing all the time and it’s really nothing,” said Chen Ming-hui, who was rescued after being trapped in the basement of a hotel. “But then it got really terrifying, It was really scary.”
The earthquake comes exactly two years since the deadly quake of the same magnitude that killed more than 100 people in the city of Tainan.