Quake leaves buildings tilting precariously in Taiwan

Published February 8, 2018
RESCUERS try to evacuate people from a building on Wednesday after an earthquake hit Hualien, in southern Taiwan.—AP
RESCUERS try to evacuate people from a building on Wednesday after an earthquake hit Hualien, in southern Taiwan.—AP

HUALIEN (Taiwan): Rescue workers pulled survivors and bodies from buildings tilting precariously in the Taiwanese city of Hualien on Wednesday after an overnight earthquake killed at least seven people, injured more than 250 and left dozens missing.

Emergency responders were focusing on a 12-storey apartment block and a nearby hotel, both of which were leaning dangerously with their lower floors pancaked after the 6.4-magnitude quake hit the popular tourist city late on Tuesday.

The national fire agency said seven people had been killed across the city, and 260 were injured. Some 67 people remained unaccounted for till late Wednesday evening.

There were grave concerns for the badly leaning Yun Tsui residential building, which also housed a restaurant, shops and a hostel.

Dozens of residents — and several pets — were rescued with ropes, ladders and cranes. But fire department staff at the site said that at least four bodies had been pulled out of the building in the day.

Of those still missing, the Hualien disaster relief centre said, 39 were residents at the apartment block and 13 were guests at the Beauty Stay Hotel — which is on the bottom floors of the Yun Tsui building.

One of the people killed at the apartment block was a woman from mainland China, authorities said.

Officials temporarily suspended rescue efforts over fears the building might slip further as engineers raced to push large concrete blocks and steel bars to support the leaning side.

Rescue efforts continued as night fell, with emergency responders wielding crowbars and torches to search the lower floors for survivors.

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2018

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