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Massive earthquake leaves transportation in eastern Taiwan paralyzed

04/03/2024 06:46 PM
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A traveler looks at screens showing information of train services at Taipei Main Station Wednesday morning. CNA photo April 3, 2024
A traveler looks at screens showing information of train services at Taipei Main Station Wednesday morning. CNA photo April 3, 2024

Taipei, April 3 (CNA) A magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck Taiwan has left transportation in eastern Taiwan paralyzed, and it will take considerable time to restore the system, Transportation Minister Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said Wednesday.

Most railway and road traffic has come to a standstill in the region, and repairing the damage could be challenging due to ongoing aftershocks, he told reporters on the sidelines of a legislative hearing.

According to Wang, some steps have been taken to help people get up and down the east coast, which is dominated by mountains and is connected to northern Taiwan by essentially one vulnerable road and a railway line that threads through mountainous terrain.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications has initiated maritime transportation shuttle services connecting Su'ao Port in Yilan County and Hualien Port in Hualien County, which will begin Thursday, and airlines are providing extra flights to the area, Wang said.

As of 5:30 p.m., Mandarin Airlines and UNI Air had added seven extra flights between Hualilenand other cities across Taiwan.

Rescue and search teams carry supplies onto a C-130H aircraft on Wednesday to Hualien County. Photo courtesy of Air Force April 3, 2024
Rescue and search teams carry supplies onto a C-130H aircraft on Wednesday to Hualien County. Photo courtesy of Air Force April 3, 2024

Still, Wang said it would be a challenge to rely on air transportation to get people in and out of the Hualien area, because of limited capacity exacerbated by the high demand from travelers during the April 4-7 Tomb Sweeping Festival holiday period.

According to the MOTC, regular railway operations between Yilan County and Taitung County will remain suspended until at least late Wednesday night, and roads between Su'ao and Chongde, representing most of the Suhua Highway, have been blocked.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's bullet train service, which canceled 44 trains and operated at reduced speeds between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., has resumed normal operations, but it does not offer service to Taiwan's east coast.

The temblor, which struck off Taiwan's eastern coast at 7:58 a.m., has left nine people dead and 821 injured, according to figures compiled by the Central Emergency Operation Center as of 4:30 p.m..

(By Yu Hsiao-han, Wang Shu-fen and Lee Hsin-Yin)

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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

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● Major earthquake shakes Taiwan, causing landslides, partial building collapse

● Multiple countries offer support for Taiwan after Hualien earthquake

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● Third nuclear power plant not affected by massive earthquake

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