Taiwan earthquake: Death toll rises to 7 as aftershocks hamper rescue operations

Taiwan earthquake: Death toll rises to 7 as aftershocks hamper rescue operations

Aftershocks rocked Taiwan's eastern coast on Thursday as rescue workers searched a teetering multi-story building for missing residents feared trapped inside more than 36 hours after a deadly quake.

The island sits near a junction of two tectonic plates and is regularly hit by earthquakes.

A Reuters witness said people rushed out of a residential building and rescue workers looked up from piles of debris after another strong aftershock rattled the city at around 11 a.m. on Thursday (0300 GMT). More than 260 people are injured and 62 unaccounted for. No one is any longer believed trapped above the second floor, he said.

Aside from the four toppled buildings, however, he said he had not heard of much significant damage, except for the odd wall falling over. Seven had been staying at a bed-and-breakfast called the Beauty Inn inside the building. Rescue workers could be seen climbing ladders as they sought to rescue residents trapped on the upper floors.

"Thank you to our first responders for their tireless efforts in #Hualien", she said.

One of her neighbors is missing, she said early Thursday.

The building is reported to be Marshal Hotel in Hualien City, which has nearly 300 rooms.

Considering the expected protracted time required to complete the rescue mission and restoration work, Lai said that all Cabinet agencies would do their utmost to "tide Hualien over". The other didn't survive.

The emergency operations center has updated the death toll to nine killed and 266 injured.

The government would subsidize people who need to relocate in accordance with due procedure, he said.

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Hualien is close to Taiwan's famous Taroko Gorge, a popular tourist destination. Others spoke of the panic when the natural disaster struck.

The force of the tremor buckled roads and disrupted electricity and water supplies to thousands of households, the fire agency said.

More than 90 weaker earthquakes were measured along Taiwan's east coast in the week before Tuesday's quake, the Central Weather Bureau reported. The shallow quake was felt as far away as the capital city of Taipei about 120 km (74 miles) to the north, according to USGS reports.

The president of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales, also sent condolences through his official Twitter account.

Located along the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, Taiwan uses an intensity scale of 1 to 7, which gauges the degree to which a quake is felt in a specific location.

Volunteers pray outside a collapsed building after an natural disaster hit Hualien, Taiwan February 8, 2018.

"I didn't really dare stay at home", said Hualien resident Yang Yantin.

Earthquakes are not uncommon for residents in Hualien but the 6.4-magnitude quake, one of the strongest in recent years, came as a shock. Sometimes it's like a rocking.

CHEN Chih-wei only realised an quake had struck when his apartment suddenly turned on its side.

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