Taiwan earthquake: Deaths confirmed amid rescue effort

BBC News:  

A strong earthquake in Taiwan has killed at least two people and injured more than 100 others, officials say.

The powerful 6.4-magnitude tremor struck at 23:50 (15:50 GMT) about 20km (12 miles) off the island’s east coast.

Rescuers are trying to free people from a partially collapsed hotel and a residential building, officials say.

Photographs show tilting and collapsed high-rise buildings, scattered debris and extensive damage to roads in the area.

The lower basement and ground floor of the 10-storey Marshal Hotel have given way. At least three members of staff are thought to be stuck inside, state media says.

“We know there are people who are trapped inside – we can see lights inside the hotel,” eyewitness Zeena Starbuck told the BBC.

“People with phones are shining their lights to let people know they’re there.”

At least 28 people have been rescued so far from buildings that have at least partially collapsed, the Hualien fire department said.

Some were seen crawling to safety, according to local media reports.

The army has been called in to help emergency workers.

Highways and bridges into the area have been damaged and are closed to traffic.

People reported feeling the quake in the island’s capital, Taipei, more than 160km (100 miles) away.

Dozens of smaller tremors have been felt throughout the island over several days. Taiwan sits near a junction of two tectonic plates and is regularly hit by earthquakes.

The earthquake happened on the second anniversary of a 6.4-magnitude tremor that killed 117 people.

Taiwan is an island which has for all practical purposes been independent since 1950, but which China regards as a rebel region that must be reunited with the mainland.

 

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