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Taiwan: Rescue operations continue after major earthquake

April 4, 2024

Many residents in the worst-hit city of Hualien spent the night in tents on sports grounds as a series of more than 300 aftershocks followed the worst quake to hit Taiwan in 25 years.

A banner reading ''Never Give Up. Hualien Come On" hangs near a partially titled building a day after a powerful earthquake struck, in Hualien City, eastern Taiwan, April 4, 2024.
Buildings were damaged, but people were mostly safe in HualienImage: Chiang Ying-ying/AP Photo/picture alliance

Rescue workers on Thursday were searching for people in Taiwan after the strongest earthquake in a quarter century shook the island Wednesday.

The Taiwan Fire Agency said in its latest update on Thursday that 52 people remained missing and 93 remained trapped. 

A series of strong tremors and about 300 aftershocks also followed the quake throughout the day. 

The 7.4-magnitude quake struck the island's east coast Wednesday, killing at least 10 people and injuring more than 1,000.

The extent of damage at the quake's epicenter in the mountainous Hualien County was still being assessed.

Some choose to spend the night outdoors

In Hualien City, workers used an excavator to stabilize the base of the damaged 10-story Uranus building with construction materials. Some 48 residential buildings were damaged by the quake, authorities said.

All those trapped in buildings have been rescued, but many residents unnerved by the aftershocks spent the night outdoors. Many slept in tents on sports grounds that were being used for temporary shelter.

Engineers were also at work to make sure that unstable buildings would not pose a risk.

Taiwan's Premier Chen Chien-jen meets with survivors at a makeshift tent
Taiwan's Premier Chen Chien-jen meets with survivors at a makeshift tent in Hualien cityImage: Chiang Ying-ying/AP Photo/picture alliance

How are rescue operations progressing after the Taiwan earthquake?

The National Fire Agency said some 40 people were still stranded inside a hotel at the Taroko National Park. It said employees and guests at the hotel were safe.

Most of the people were killed by falling rocks on Wednesday, and four of the fatalities were inside the national park, according to the state Central News Agency.

Authorities also raced to rescue people trapped in quarries and highway tunnels. Authorities said some 60 workers, who were unable to leave a quarry due to blocked roads, were freed on Thursday.

Central News Agency said all of the workers got off the mountain safely around noon, and six workers from another quarry were airlifted out. 

Taiwan celebrates a two-day public holiday on Thursday and Friday to celebrate the Qingming festival, with Taiwanese visiting the tombs of their ancestors. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen urged citizens to not venture out to mountainous regions of the island during the holiday, due to landslide concerns.   

wd, rm/ab (Reuters, AP, AFP)