Published: Fri, February 09, 2018

7 dead, 260 injured after major 6.4 natural disaster hits Taiwan's east coast

7 dead, 260 injured after major 6.4 natural disaster hits Taiwan's east coast

Council officials said the foundation had passed on the information about the people killed to its mainland counterpart, the Association of Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (Arats).

Taiwan's central government on Thursday declined disaster relief aid from China and other countries, with the exception of Japan, in the wake of a magnitude 6.0 quake which struck Hualien County in eastern Taiwan late Tuesday, causing loss of life and serious property damage.

But the authorities slashed the number of missing from more than 60 people to seven by yesterday evening - five Chinese mainland nationals and a Canadian-Chinese couple.

Chen Kuo-chang, the acting director of the Central Weather Bureau's Seismology Center, said the seismic epicenter of the magnitude 6.0, February 6 quake was located off the coast of Hualien County and was the largest natural disaster in the area since 1972.

"We've never had anything like this; we've never had a building topple over. We ran to empty open spaces to avoid it".

Aftershocks with a magnitude of at least 5.0 could rock the island in the next two weeks, the government said.

Residents waited and watched anxiously as emergency workers dressed in fluorescent orange and red suits and wearing helmets searched for residents trapped in apartment blocks.

Jason Grenier, a Canadian living with his Taiwanese wife and daughter just south of Hualien, said Wednesday that their home is intact and they have power and water.

Rescuers fear dozens of people are stuck in collapsed buildings. The first two floors of the 41-year-old building crumpled during the natural disaster, Taiwanese officials said.

Emergency workers used enormous beams, raised with a crane, to prop up the building - a large residential and commercial complex - which leaned ominously over the street below. Others spoke of the panic when the quake struck.

Taiwanese broadcaster TVBS said Wednesday that a rescue operation was underway at the Marshal Hotel.

Images from the city showed tilted structures, scattered debris and extensive damage to roads. A rescue worker told TVBS that rescuers were working to save two other employees as family members waited nearby.

Taiwan is "grateful to the many offers of assistance & support coming from around the world", Tsai, who was in the city Wednesday to view the damage, said toward the end of the day.

Bridges and some highways along Taiwan's east coast were closed pending inspections.

At least six people were killed, 256 were injured and 76 could not be contacted after the shallow, magnitude 6.4 quake late Tuesday night.

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