World

Scores missing after deadly 6.4-magnitude natural disaster strikes Taiwan

Scores missing after deadly 6.4-magnitude natural disaster strikes Taiwan

A series of strong aftershocks have hindered search and rescue efforts on Thursday for victims and survivors of a magnitude-6.4 natural disaster in Taiwan that left nine people dead and 226 others injured.

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).

MECO chief Angelito Banayo said the missing Filipina, Melody Albano Castro, is employed as a caretaker in an nursing home for the elderly at the devastated city of Hualien. The government reported that two bridges in the city were either cracked or could not be used and that many roads were buckled and risky.

Rescuers used steel supports to prop up the listing building.

Engineers were frantically trying to reinforce the building today, drafting in huge concrete blocks and steel bars to stop any further collapse as rescuers carried out the risky task of searching the shattered concrete structure for survivors.

The Executive Yuan is to provide NT$300 million (US$10.25 million) in disaster relief funds in the wake of a devastating quake in Hualien County on Tuesday night, Premier William Lai (賴清德) said yesterday. "I was sleeping and suddenly I was standing", Chen Chih-wei said. At an elementary school turned shelter in Taiwan's Hualien city some survivors of a tower block left teetering by Tuesday's quake were baffled and angry that such a seemingly solid structure had folded with deadly results. No one is any longer believed trapped above the second floor, he said.

"How would I dare to stay inside (my home)?"

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen thanked first responders in a tweet.

"We will not rest until all are found", she added.

Pope Francis also expressed solidarity with the victims in a statement released by the Vatican.

"It's the biggest quake I've experienced in Hualien in more than 10 years", resident Blue Hsu told AFP, who said his home shook violently.

One hotel employee was rescued from the basement and three others remain missing, officials said.

"It is the first time in my life [where I felt like] I wanted to hide under a bed", said 32-year-old Ms Chieh.

"My family were unhurt, but a neighbour was injured in their head and is bleeding". Tenants and their furniture were flung across their apartments in the damaged building. At least six people were killed and 88 missing in the quake.

More than 100 people were killed in a quake in southern Taiwan in 2016, and some Taiwanese remain scarred by a 7.6 magnitude quake that was felt across the island and killed more than 2,000 people in 1999.


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