At least five people were killed and more than 200 injured after an earthquake of magnitude 6.4 on the Richter scale struck Taiwan on Tuesday night, AFP reported. Rescue workers were still looking for survivors and bodies from tilted buildings in Hualien city on Wednesday. The toll is likely to rise further.
As of 2 pm local time (11:30 am Indian time), 88 people were unaccounted for, the national fire agency said.
The earthquake hit around 21 km northeast of Hualien city, according to the United States Geological Survey. Several aftershocks hit the area but there were no signs of a tsunami warning. The earthquake was strong enough to be felt in cities a significant distance away, including Capital city Taipei.
Many buildings collapsed or were damaged in the earthquake. Two bridges and some roads were also closed.
Officials said that up to 16 people were trapped in a residential building in Huaelin and 214 people were injured. But Taiwan media reported that more than 150 people are still trapped in buildings.
“The president has asked the Cabinet and related ministries to immediately launch the “disaster mechanism” and to work at the fastest rate on disaster relief work,” President Tsai Ing-wen’s office said. Premier William Lai said the government was repairing a major road that was damaged by the earthquake.
Rescue teams pulled out 149 people from the rubble, the National Fire Agency said and added that 40,000 people were without water and 645 without electricity, The New York Times reported.
Taiwan lies near where two tectonic plates meet and is often struck by earthquakes. Tuesday night’s earthquake comes after five shallow tremors struck off the east coast of the island nation on Sunday, within hours of each other.