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Taiwan searches for 18 people still missing after Wednesday's earthquake | Earthquake news

Taiwan searches for 18 people still missing after Wednesday's earthquake |  Earthquake news


Strict building codes and widespread public awareness of disasters appear to have averted a major disaster.

Rescuers in Taiwan continue to search for 18 people still missing after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the island's rugged east coast.

Wednesday's quake in the sparsely populated, mountainous eastern province of Hualien killed 10 people, injured more than 1,000 and left hundreds stranded in a national park where landslides cut off roads.

Taiwan's fire department said Friday that 18 people were still missing, including six on a hiking trail, and four foreigners previously classified as Indians, Canadians and Australians.

Rescuers confirmed that about 400 people stranded at a resort in the picturesque Taroko National Park were safe, while helicopters transported supplies and evacuated the injured.

“We are assessing the possibility of rain today, so our search and rescue colleagues will be equipped with rain gear. Heavy rain increases the risk of rockslides and landslides, which are the biggest challenges we currently face,” said Su Yuming, Kaohsiung City Search and Rescue Team Leader. “.

He added: “These factors are unpredictable, which means we cannot confirm the number of days required for search and rescue operations at this time.”

The group of 50 workers, who were on their way to the hotel by road at the time of the quake, are mostly safe.

“I am lucky to have survived this disaster. We were terrified, especially when the earthquake first happened. We thought it was over, it was all over, because it was an earthquake, right?” David Chen, 63, the hotel's security manager, said after he was rescued on Thursday.

“As we were leaving, the rocks were still falling. We had to navigate through the gaps between the falling rocks, with the search and rescue team in the lead,” he added.

Sleeping in tents

Wednesday's earthquake was the worst in 25 years, but strict building codes and widespread public awareness of disasters appear to have prevented a major catastrophe.

Rescue workers in Taroko National Park. The earthquake dislodged boulders and boulders that fell onto mountain slopes, roads and hiking trails [Taiwan’s Central Emergency Operations Center via AFP]

More than 100 residents of Hualien, the worst-hit city, chose to spend the night in outdoor tents rather than apartments as hundreds of aftershocks were reported in the hours after the quake.

“What worries us is that when big aftershocks happen, it may be difficult for us to evacuate again – especially with a child,” said Indonesian Hendry Sutrisno, 30, a professor at Donghua University.

He and his wife hid under a table with their infant when the earthquake struck before fleeing their apartment.

“We have all the necessary things, blankets, a toilet, and a place to rest,” he said.

The quake occurred a day before Taiwan began the Qingming long weekend, where families traditionally visit the graves of their ancestors to clean them and make offerings.

The government has warned people to beware of landslides or rockslides if they venture into the countryside for vacation.

President Tsai Ing-wen warned: “Do not go to the mountains unless necessary.”

Work begins to demolish the Uranus Building, which collapsed in the April 3 earthquake [Yan Zhao/AFPTV via AFP]

More than 100 people were killed in an earthquake that struck southern Taiwan in 2016, while a 7.6-magnitude earthquake killed about 2,400 people in 1999, the worst natural disaster in the island's history.




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