Major quake strikes off Taiwan, 2 trapped in building collapse

A two-story residential building has collapsed near the epicentre, work is under way to rescue two people.

Taiwan Earthquake
Firefighters in the search for trapped victims in a collapsed residential building following earthquake in Yuli township in Hualien County, eastern Taiwan [Hualien County Fire Department via AP]

A magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck Taiwan’s southeastern coast on Sunday with at least one building collapsing and train cars derailed.

The quake hit at 2:44pm (06:44 GMT) about 50km (30 miles) north of the city of Taitung at a depth of 10km (4 miles), the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

More than 600 people were trapped on the scenic Chike and Liushishi mountain areas by blocked roads, though there were no injuries and rescuers were working to reopen them.

A two-story residential building collapsed near the epicentre in Yuli district and work was under way to rescue two trapped people.

Taiwan Earthquake
A victim is carried by firefighter during a rescue operation in Yuli township [Hualien City Government via AP]

Video posted by Taiwan’s semi-official Central News Agency showed panicked residents running towards the building, which caved in on itself and sent up a thick cloud of dust.

The 70-year-old owner of the building and his wife were rescued, and workers were in communication with a 39-year-old woman and her five-year-old daughter still trapped inside.

Police and firefighters rushed to a bridge collapse on a two-lane road in what appeared to be a rural part of Yuli where three people and one or more vehicles may have fallen off, according to media reports.

The Taiwan Railways Administration said three carriages came off the rails at Dongli station in eastern Taiwan after part of the platform canopy collapsed. The roughly 20 passengers on board were evacuated.

The shaking was felt at the north end of the island in the capital, Taipei. The temblor’s initial strength was given as magnitude 7.2, but USGS later downgraded it to 6.9.

A magnitude 6.6 quake hit the same region on Saturday and there have been multiple tremors since with Sunday’s the strongest by far.

Interactive Taiwan Earthquake September 18
(Al Jazeera)

Japan’s Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami advisory to remote islands near Taiwan but it was later cancelled. The islands are about 2,000km (1,200 miles) southwest of Tokyo.

Taiwan is regularly hit by earthquakes as the island lies near the junction of two tectonic plates.

More than 100 people were killed in a quake in southern Taiwan in 2016, while a magnitude 7.3 temblor killed more than 2,000 people in 1999.

Taiwan Earthquake
Collapsed residential building following earthquake in Yuli township [Hualien County Fire Department via AP]
Source: News Agencies