Taiwan searches for dozens trapped after strongest quake in 25 years

By , K24 Digital
On Wed, 3 Apr, 2024 10:56 | 2 mins read
Cameras capture violent shaking from massive earthquake near Taiwan. PHOTO/Reuters
Cameras capture violent shaking from massive earthquake near Taiwan. PHOTO/Reuters

Rescuers in Taiwan scrambled to free dozens of trapped people after the island was struck by its strongest earthquake in 25 years Wednesday, killing at least seven and injuring hundreds of others.

The powerful 7.4 magnitude tremor shook the island’s east coast, hitting at 7:58 a.m. local time 18 kilometers (11 miles) south of Hualien city and a depth of 34.8 kilometers (21 miles), according to the US Geological Survey. It was followed by several strong aftershocks with tremors felt across the island, including by CNN staff in the capital Taipei.

Taiwan’s National Fire Agency (NFA) said at least seven people were killed, 736 injured and 77 others remain trapped following the quake. The severity of the injuries and location of those who are unreachable remains unclear.

All the deaths were in Hualien County, among them three hikers killed by falling rocks in the tourist hotspot Taroko Gorge, the NFA said. Falling rocks also killed a truck driver in front of a tunnel on the east coast’s Suhua Highway, it added.

Meanwhile, rescuers were en route to 12 people, including two Canadians, trapped on a trail in the gorge. Two German nationals are also trapped in a tunnel in Hualien, the NFA said, though their condition is unclear.

Reports of extensive damage have also emerged, with collapsed buildings in Hualien County, thousands of homes left without power and a major highway closed due to landslides and rockfalls, according to Taiwanese officials.

Taiwan’s Central Weather Administration spokesperson warned that powerful aftershocks as high as magnitude 7 are expected to occur until the end of the week.

Taiwan, tsunami warning

The quake prompted initial tsunami warnings in Taiwan, southern Japan and the Philippines, with waves less than half a meter observed along some coasts, prompting airlines to suspend flights. All tsunami warnings were later lifted.

In Taiwan, military personnel were dispatched to help with disaster relief and schools and workplaces suspended operations as aftershocks hit the island, according to the Defense Ministry.