Strong quake hits Taiwan, many trapped in toppled building

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TAIPEI, TAIWAN — A 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck southern Taiwan early Saturday, toppling at least one high-rise residential building where rescuers pulled out more than 120 people. Dozens of others are still believed to be inside.

Firefighters scrambled to the site with ladders, cranes and other equipment and pulled survivors from the building in the southern city of Tainan, footage from local TV broadcasters showed.

Taiwan's official news agency said more than 120 people from the 16-story Wei Guan building were pulled from the rubble, and at least 23 were injured. The Central News Agency said that about 200 people are believed to have been living inside in about 60 households.

Several other buildings are also collapsed or partially damaged.

As dawn broke, live Taiwanese TV showed survivors being brought gingerly from the building, including an elderly woman in a neck brace and others wrapped in blankets. The trappings of daily life — a partially crushed air conditioner, pieces of a metal balcony, windows — lay twisted in what appeared to be nearby rubble.

People with their arms around firefighters were being helped from the building, and cranes were being used to search darkened parts of the structure for survivors. Newscasters said other areas of the city were still being canvassed for possible damage.

Men in camouflage uniforms, apparently military personnel, marched into one area of collapse carrying large shovels. Aerial images of at least two different buildings showed what appeared to be significant devastation. It was unclear if both were residential structures.

The Taiwanese news website ET Today reported that two buildings toppled in Tainan, and that some water and gas utility pipes had ruptured. Sirens were wailing as city authorities responded to the quake.

The temblor struck about 4 a.m. local time (2000 GMT Friday). It was located some 22 miles (36 kilometers) southeast of Yujing, and struck about 6 miles (10 kilometers) underground, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

It was felt as a lengthy, rolling shake in the capital, Taipei, on the other side of the island. But Taipei was quiet, with no sense of emergency or obvious damage just before dawn.


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