Thursday, 18 April 2024

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Taiwan earthquake injuries top 1,000, hotel workers still missing By Reuters

© Reuters. A general view as workers carry out operations while on an elevated platform of a firefighting truck at the site where a building collapsed, following the earthquake, in Hualien, Taiwan April 4, 2024. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

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By Yimou Lee and Fabian Hamacher

HUALIEN, Taiwan (Reuters) -The number of people injured in a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in eastern Taiwan climbed past 1,000 on Thursday though the death toll remained steady at nine, with 38 workers on their way to a hotel in a national park still missing and others now found.

The temblor, the strongest in 25 years, hit on Wednesday morning just as people were readying to go to work and school, centred on the largely rural and sparsely populated eastern county of Hualien.

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

Taiwan’s fire department said the number of injuries had reached 1,038, putting the total number of missing at 52. Around a dozen of the hotel workers on their way to a resort in Taroko National Park had been located, with 38 still listed as missing.

The fire department said its rescue work was focused on people trapped on the cross-island highway, which traverses the gorge connecting Hualien with Taiwan’s west coast and is a popular tourist destination.

Authorities are using drones and helicopters to look for people in the gorge and will drop supplies to them when they are found.

On Thursday morning, a helicopter rescued six people who had been trapped in a mining area, the fire department said.

The railway line to Hualien also re-opened ahead of schedule on Thursday, although one rural station north of Hualien city remains closed due to damage, the railway administration said.

In Hualien city, where people who had been trapped in buildings have all been rescued, some people slept outdoors overnight as dozens of aftershocks rocked the region.

A lady, 52, who gave her family name as Yu, said she checked herself into a tent on a sports ground being used for temporary shelter late on Wednesday night because she was too scared to sleep in her apartment, which she described as “a mess”.

“The aftershocks were terrifying. It’s nonstop. I do not dare to sleep in the house,” she said.

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