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

04/03/2024 11:42 PM
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CNA photo April 3, 2024
CNA photo April 3, 2024

Taipei, April 3 (CNA) The strongest earthquake to hit Taiwan in nearly 25 years has resulted in nine deaths, 1,011 injuries, and 143 people trapped as of 10:00 p.m. Wednesday, according to central and local government officials.

The fatalities, all reported in Hualien -- include four individuals in Taroko Gorge, two near the Dachingshui and Huide tunnels, one in a residential building in Hualien City, and one in the Hejen mining area -- with most being the result of rockfalls.

The nine deceased included five women and four men, data showed.

According to the National Fire Agency, seven people were trapped in Hejen mining area, 47 hotel employees and 24 tourists at Jiuqudong, 64 individuals in the Heping mining area, and one on Jhu-ilu Trekking and Hiking trail.

Chen Cheng-chi (陳正棋), Central Emergency Operation Center (CEOC) deputy commander and deputy minister of economic affairs, noted that most rescue efforts are currently focused on Provincial Highway No. 8.

Rocks block Provincial Highway No. 8 in Central Taiwan Wednesday morning. Photo courtesy of Taichung City Fire Bureau April 3, 2024
Rocks block Provincial Highway No. 8 in Central Taiwan Wednesday morning. Photo courtesy of Taichung City Fire Bureau April 3, 2024

He said three vehicles and 42 individuals from the Silks Place Taroko hotel are still unaccounted for, adding that it is crucial for rescue personnel conducting nighttime operations to prioritize their own safety.

However, the hotel reported earlier that three of its employees walked to the hotel from nearby Jiuqudong and confirmed that the other 47 employees were safe.

The three employees said that over 20 tourists are still trapped near Jiuqudong, but are also safe and waiting to be rescued.

Meanwhile, the CEOC said 75 individuals who were earlier trapped in multiple tunnels on the Dachingshui and Jinwen sections of Provincial Highway No. 9 have all been rescued after the transportation ministry cleared the roads.

The Hualien County Government also said that over 600 people are still stuck and have been placed in accommodation inside Taroko National Park, including guests and staff at Silks Place Taroko, Tienhsiang Youth Activity Center, and Taroko Village Hotel.

New Taipei City Government, meanwhile, said its Social Welfare Department has established 15 shelters in four districts -- Xindian, Tucheng, Luzhou, and Zhonghe -- to accommodate residents affected by the earthquake.

As of 8:00 p.m., 269 people were sheltering in those locations, it added.

According to the Kaohsiung Fire Bureau, two foreign nationals -- a 29-year-old man and a 35-year-old woman -- were rescued at around 8 p.m. on the Shakadang Trail. The two sustained minor abrasions but remained conscious, and after receiving medical treatment on-site, were taken to hospital by the Hualien County Fire Bureau.

Rescuers check one of the foreign nationals found on the Shakadang Trail in Hualien County. Photo courtesy of Kaohsiung Fire Bureau April 3, 2024
Rescuers check one of the foreign nationals found on the Shakadang Trail in Hualien County. Photo courtesy of Kaohsiung Fire Bureau April 3, 2024

In terms of transportation, the Civil Aviation Administration said additional flights and transportation to outlying islands for the Tomb Sweeping Day from April 4-7 have been arranged, with the agency adding eight extra flights to Hualien on Wednesday and Thursday.

Railway services will also be available starting Thursday morning, it added.

Regarding water and electricity supply, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said earlier that 371,869 households were experiencing power outages nationwide.

Of those, 1,073 households were still without power late Wednesday. Among the affected households, 660 are expected to have power restored late on Wednesday, according to the ministry.

Residents arrive at a shelter set up by Hualien City Office in an elementary school on Wednesday. CNA photo April 3, 2024
Residents arrive at a shelter set up by Hualien City Office in an elementary school on Wednesday. CNA photo April 3, 2024

In addition, 125,675 households were initially affected by water stoppages across Taiwan, with 14,718 households currently still experiencing water stoppages, including 14,500 households in Hualien, the ministry added.

It is expected that water will be restored by midnight on Thursday and in the meantime water trucks have been dispatched to provide water in affected areas, the ministry added.

In addition, the ministry said 20 of 80 cell phone base stations damaged had been repaired as of late Wednesday.

The National Communications Commission aims to gradually restore the remaining stations by Friday, it added.

(By Chang Chi, Huang Li-yun and Evelyn Yang)

Enditem/AW

Update

April 8

● A true scout: How Greek national led others to safety in Taroko Gorge

● Hualien could lose NT$5.3 billion in April tourism income after quake

● Turkish rescuer workers assist Taiwan's quake relief efforts

April 7

● Donations for quake relief top NT$116.84 million as rescue effort continues

● Filipino envoy visits Hualien, expresses Manila's sympathy over quake

April 6:Bolivia expressing concern to China over Taiwan quake 'serious mistake': MOFA

April 5:Earthquake survivor's horrifying account: Rocks falling like bullets

April 4:Over 360 aftershocks strike Taiwan following magnitude 7.2 quake

April 3: Taiwan earthquake island's strongest in 25 years: CWA

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The body of one of the nine diseased in Hualien County is taken to an ambulance Wednesday evening. CNA photo April 3, 2024
The body of one of the nine diseased in Hualien County is taken to an ambulance Wednesday evening. CNA photo April 3, 2024
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