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Taiwan earthquake injuries top 1,000, missing hotel workers found

The number of people injured in a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in eastern Taiwan passed 1,000 on Thursday, although the death toll remained steady at nine, with dozens of workers heading to a hotel in a national park having now mostly been found safe and sound.

The tremor, the strongest in 25 years, struck Wednesday morning as people were preparing to go to work and school, concentrated in the largely rural and sparsely populated eastern county of Hualien.

Buildings also shook violently in the capital Taipei, but damage and disruption was minimal.

A partially collapsed residential building following the 7.4 magnitude earthquake in Hualien, Taiwan, April 4, 2024. DANIEL CENG/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Taiwan firefighters said the number of injured reached 1,058, but most of the nearly 50 hotel workers en route to a resort in Taroko National Park, a popular tourist destination, were located.

Interior Minister Lin Yu-chang wrote on his Facebook page that rescuers hoped to reach them Thursday evening.

Work continues to open the road to Taroko, known as the Trans-Island Highway, through the gorge connecting Hualien to Taiwan’s west coast.

Residents look at a damaged building being demolished following the earthquake in Hualien, Taiwan, April 4, 2024. REUTERS

Another 646 people are still stuck, mostly in hotels in the park, due to the road being cut, firefighters said.

The rail line to Hualien reopened ahead of schedule on Thursday, although a rural station north of Hualien city remains closed due to damage, the railway administration said.

In Hualien city, where people trapped in buildings were all rescued, some people slept outside overnight as more than 300 aftershocks shook the area, disrupting residents.

Firefighters and quarry workers evacuate a body from the Ho Ren quarry a day after a powerful earthquake struck eastern Taiwan’s Hualien County on April 4, 2024. P.A.

Outside a badly damaged ten-story building in downtown Hualien, dozens of residents lined up to enter and collect their belongings.

Having to wear helmets and accompanied by members of the government, they were given a 10-minute time limit to collect their valuables in huge garbage bags, although some chose to throw their belongings out of windows into the street to win time.

Tian Liang-si, who lived on the fifth floor, rushed to collect her laptop, family photos and other items.

Workers carry out operations while a firefighter sprays water near them at the site where a building collapsed in Hualien, Taiwan, April 4, 2024. REUTERS

She remembered the moment of the earthquake, rushing to save her four puppies as the building lurched and furniture moved.

“I am from Hualiener. I’m not supposed to fear earthquakes. But it was an earthquake that scared us,” she told Reuters.

“This building is no longer habitable.”

New York Post

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