1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Taiwan rescuers free nine trapped in open cave trail

April 5, 2024

Rescue teams have freed nine people who were trapped in a cave in a mountainous region of eastern Taiwan. The death toll in the powerful quake is expected to rise to 12.

 A rescue helicopter flies past the area of a landslide, following the earthquake
The quake's epicenter was just off the coast of eastern Hualien CountyImage: Tyrone Siu/REUTERS

Rescuers on Friday brought nine people to safety who had been stranded in a winding open cave system two days after Taiwan was hit by its biggest earthquake in 25 years.

The 7.2 magnitude quake is believed to have killed at least 12 people, with more than 1,000 others injured.

What's the latest from the quake zone?

The nine people rescued had been trapped in the Tunnel of Nine Turns, a section of mountain trail and overhanging rock that is popular with walkers.

"I could do nothing but kept praying," one woman who was rescued from the tunnel told reporters, according to Taiwan's SET News channel. She said the earthquake had sounded like "a bomb."

Meanwhile, the death toll was expected to rise to 12 as rescue teams found two people who had been pinned beneath a pile of giant rocks. Officially the number of fatalities stands at 10 until the two are formally identified.

Hundreds of other people were still stranded around the mountains of Taroko National Park on Friday, with landslides and rockfalls having blocked roads.

Taiwan quake: Hundreds still stuck in Taroko national park

Most were believed to be safe as rescuers deployed helicopters, drones, and small teams with dogs were deployed.

Interior Minister Lin Yu-chang said progress appeared to be ahead of schedule.

"There are still aftershocks and rocks falling but in a very short period of about five hours today, we have managed to repair 10 kilometers of roads," he said.

Some degree of relief

In the nearby coastal city of Hualien, workers started demolishing a building named Uranus, a 10-story mix of shops and apartments, which was tilting at a 45-degree angle after half its first floor buckled.

DW's James Chater, in Hualien, said there was some relief that the damage and death toll had not been worse given the power of the quake. 

However, he said the main concern at present was that conditions might worsen and hamper rescue operations and the delivery of supplies to stranded people in the national park.

The quake's epicenter was just off the coast of eastern Hualien County.

rc/ab (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)