Helicopter rescues Taiwan miners as earthquake injuries top 1,000

The number of injured in Wednesday's 7.2-magnitudequake rose to 1,058, while most of the roughly 50 hotel workers marooned on a highway

Reuters
Published : 4 April 2024, 08:33 AM
Updated : 4 April 2024, 08:33 AM

A helicopter plucked to safety on Thursday six people stranded in a mining area after Taiwan's worst earthquake in 25 years, while hundreds of aftershocks rocking the eastern region near its epicentre drove scores more to seek shelter outdoors.

The number of injured in Wednesday's 7.2-magnitudequake rose to 1,058, authorities said, while most of the roughly 50 hotel workers marooned on a highway as they travelled to a resort in a national park had been located.

A further 646 people are still trapped, most of them in hotels in the park, a key tourist attraction, as the road was cut off, the fire department said.

The death toll stayed at nine from the earthquake that struck offshore on Wednesday, just as people were readying to go to work and school in largely rural and sparsely populated Hualien county.

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

Those trapped in buildings in the worst-hit city of Hualien have all been rescued, but many residents unnerved by more than 300 aftershocks spent the night outdoors.

"The aftershocks were terrifying," said Yu, a 52-year-old woman, who gave only her family name. "It's non-stop. I do not dare to sleep in the house."

Too scared to return to her apartment, which she described as being in a "mess", she slept in a tent on a sports ground being used for temporary shelter.

Dozens of residents queued outside one badly damaged 10-storey building in the city, waiting to get in and retrieve belongings.

Clad in helmets and accompanied by government personnel, each was given 10 minutes to collect valuables in huge garbage bags, though some saved time by throwing belongings out of windows into the street below.

"This building is no longer liveable," said Tian Liang-si, who lived on the fifth floor, as she scrambled to gather her laptop, family photographs and other crucial items.

She recalled the moment the quake struck, with the building lurching and furniture sliding, as she rushed to save the four puppies she keeps as pets.

"I'm a Hualien native," she told Reuters. "I'm not supposed to fear earthquakes. But this is an earthquake that frightened us."