TAIPEI – Search and rescue teams in Taiwan continued to brave the intense cold and repeated aftershocks on Thursday and rescued 50 of the 58 people who went missing after a magnitude-6.4 earthquake rocked the island earlier this week.
The rescue mission intensified in the last few hours with fears of more aftershocks with the emergency teams rescuing dozens of people trapped inside damaged or partially collapsed buildings.
Korean seismologist Sun Wen, on an observation visit, told the media on Thursday that the rescue operation has been efficient.
Wu Jia-chi, a member of the rescue team and who has also taken part in other rescue missions in Taiwan, said that this time the rescue efforts have been more complicated owing to the frequent aftershocks and cramped space that has blocked free movement.
So far, nine people have died, 270 have been injured and eight remain missing, according to the latest figures released by the authorities.
A domestic worker from the Philippines – who was in the seventh floor of the Yun Men Tsui Ti residential building – a Canadian couple and a child and four Chinese adults in the Hotel Meilun are believed to be among those who are still missing, according to the Hualein emergency operations center.
The earthquake, measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale, occurred on Tuesday around 22 kilometers (13.7 miles) from the city of Hualien, at a depth of 10.6 kilometers.
Hundreds of tremors of varied magnitudes were recorded before and after the earthquake, which Chen Kuo-chang, director of the weather bureau’s Seismological Center, described as something unusual.
Taiwan is located on the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” an area known for intense seismic activities, and was hit by a magnitude-7.6 earthquake in 1999 that killed at least 2,415 people.