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Death toll rises to 9, over 800 injured in Hualien earthquake

04/03/2024 06:13 PM
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A policeman reports a smashed vehicle, in which the driver is found dead, in Hualien County Wednesday. Photo courtesy of local police April 3, 2024
A policeman reports a smashed vehicle, in which the driver is found dead, in Hualien County Wednesday. Photo courtesy of local police April 3, 2024

Taipei, April 3 (CNA) In the aftermath of a strong earthquake Wednesday morning, central and local government officials in Taiwan had reported a total of 9 deaths, all in Hualien County, 821 people injured, and 127 trapped as of 4:30 p.m.

Earlier Wednesday, four fatalities were reported as a result of the earthquake, including three hikers killed by falling rocks on the Dekarun Trail in Hualien's Taroko National Park and a truck driver struck by falling rocks near Dachingshui Tunnel.

The newly reported fatalities include another person in Taroko National Park (on Provincial Highway 8) -- a woman surnamed Yu (余), who was engaged in slope maintenance work with her husband on Provincial Highway 8 at the 183.2-kilometer mark inside the park.

Yu was hit by falling rocks and rushed to Hualien Armed Forces General Hospital for treatment, the officials said, adding that she was declared dead at 9:22 a.m.

Meanwhile, a man in his 60s died in the Taiwan Cement Corp. Hejen mining area after being hit by falling rocks, officials added.

Among the fatalities was a man who found dead in a car crushed by falling rocks in Huide Tunnel parking lot on the Suhua Highway, Hualien police said.

The earthquake caused multiple rockfalls on the Suhua Highway, resulting in transportation disruptions.

Photo courtesy of Taroko National Park Headquarters April 3, 2024
Photo courtesy of Taroko National Park Headquarters April 3, 2024

Authorities have not yet provided additional details on the two remaining fatalities reported at 4:30 p.m.

Deputy Health Minister Victor Wang (王必勝) told reporters on Wednesday that the Central Emergency Operation Center (CEOC) has already contacted Hualien health officials and confirmed that current medical capacity is sufficient.

In addition to Mennonite Christian Hospital, Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital and Hualien Armed Forces General Hospital, which have been treating patients in the aftermath of the earthquake, medical teams in Yilan and Taitung have been asked to assist if necessary, Wang said.

Meanwhile, the National Fire Agency said there are around 15 people trapped in Dachingshui Tunnel, two German nationals stuck in Chongde Tunnel and 60 people in Jinwen Tunnel, who they are currently working to rescue.

Another 50 people trapped are passengers on shuttle buses heading from downtown Hualien to Silks Place Taroko hotel.

The agency added that a total of 28 buildings tilted or partially collapsed nationwide, including 17 in Hualien County, one in Yilan County, two in Keelung City, and eight in New Taipei.

In addition, 22 people have been rescued from a collapsed residential building in Hualien County, with rescuers still trying to retrieve the body of one woman they believe has no vital signs, the Hualien police said.

(By Chang Chi, Hung Hsueh Kuang and Evelyn Yang)

Enditem/AW

Update

April 4

● 38 still missing as Hualien earthquake death toll rises to 10

● Rail traffic between Yilan, Hualien reopens after quake

● More than 70% of TSMC equipment back online after major quake in Taiwan

April 3

● Nine dead, over 1,000 injured as earthquake rescue operations continue

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