TAIPEI – At least two people were killed and more than 200 others injured when a magnitude-6.4 earthquake struck the eastern city of Hualien, the Taiwanese Emergency Response Center reported on Wednesday.
Around 100 people remain trapped inside the Hotel Tongshuai, where the bottom three floors of one structure collapsed, first responders said.
Luckily, most of the Hotel Tongshuai’s guests were on the fifth and higher floors, but three employees on the first floor were buried in the ruins and another is missing, firefighters said.
At least xix buildings in Hualien were seriously damaged by the quake, and three of them partially collapsed, including the A-Guan Hotpot building.
Authorities said that the casualty count could rise in the coming hours as rescue and recovery efforts, along with operations to remove debris, continue.
The quake damaged two hospitals, the Meilun Hotel and another building, caused cracks in hundreds of other structures, ruptured gas lines and damaged much infrastructure, including two bridges, which were closed to traffic, along with the Suhua highway and the Qixingtian bridge.
Landslides also cascaded onto the island’s central highway and the Provincial 11 highway suffered cracks and deformations but remains open.
The temblor occurred at 11:50 pm Tuesday and the epicenter was located some 18 km (11 mi) north-northeast of Hualien, the government said.
Numerous aftershocks were felt all over the island, including in the capital of Taipei.
Taiwan is located on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a seismically active zone, and earthquakes are a common occurrence there. In 1999, a magnitude 7.6 temblor struck the island, killing at least 2,415 people.