Published: Thu, February 08, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

New quake shakes Taiwan's Hualien as death toll rises

New quake shakes Taiwan's Hualien as death toll rises

Taiwanese media report that the major quake which hit eastern Taiwan late Tuesday has caused extensive damage along a major fault line.

Tuesday's natural disaster in Hualien hit two years after an quake in southern Taiwan leveled a 17-story building in Tainan City, killing 117 people. The forest officials are not sure of number of people still trapped inside. Dozens of smaller tremors have been felt throughout the island over several days. More than 100 aftershocks have been recorded since it struck, and authorities warned that earthquakes of magnitude 5.0 or higher were possible over the next two weeks.

"This is the worst quake in the history of Hualien, or at least over the past 40 years that I've been alive", said volunteer Yang Hsi Hua.

Strong aftershocks continued to strike Thursday sending rescue teams scurrying from the building, only for them to return a little while later and resume their grim task.

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Horns sounded to warn people to leave buildings and chanting from groups of Buddhists could also be heard.

"Two people were unfortunately killed, and 114 have suffered light or severe injuries", Taiwan's Premier William Lai told an emergency government meeting. The death toll had been put at seven overnight.

Rescuers are working to free those trapped after the quake caused several buildings in in worst-hit Hualien county to cave in and tilt dangerously.

More than 600 soldiers and 1,300 police have been deployed to help with rescue efforts.

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Local broadcaster SET TV ran an interview with a man who said he was the husband of one of the Chinese mainland victims. Out of the 830 people, who were evacuated, 643 took refuge in temporary shelters.

Hualien is home to about 100,000 people. Its streets were buckled by the force of the quake, with large cracks along major roads.

Taiwan, a self-ruled island that China considers part of its territory, is prone to earthquakes.

Lai made the announcement while presiding over an ad hoc meeting at the Central Emergency Operation Center in New Taipei City, which is coordinating rescue efforts and assessing damage in the aftermath of the magnitude 6.0 quake.

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