Mon, Sep 27, 1999 - Page 1 News List

Fierce aftershock raises death toll

STAFF WRITER , WITH AGENCIES

A strong aftershock shook Taiwan yesterday, killing three, injuring 58 and causing several buildings already weakened by Tuesday's kil-ler quake to collapse.

The death toll rose to 2,060, with 8,672 injured, 189 missing and 961 stranded in remote areas.

The tremor, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, rattled Taiwan at about 8 am yesterday. The epicenter of the quake was located at some 10km east of scenic Sun Moon Lake, 7.5km underground.

In Nantou County's Ming-chien (名間) Township, a 12-story residential building collapsed onto a busy road and caught fire.

The building crushed the Minchien Township Farmers' Association building across the road and at least two passing vehicles and several passersby.

One of two employees working overtime at the farmers' association yesterday managed to escape; another could not be found.

The building had been declared dangerous after Tuesday's quake and the road section in front of the building had been cordoned off by police. But traffic resumed on the road Saturday afternoon after someone removed warning signs.

Witnesses said at least 10 residents of the building were in it when it collapsed, retrieving some of their belongings.

Rescue teams from South Korea, Mexico, Turkey, the UK, Spain, Russia and the US all rushed to site of the collapsed building to help out with rescue efforts.

The quake also caused a landslide in Yunlin County's Kukeng (古坑) Township, burying two vehicles carrying a family to Tsaoling (草嶺) village. Four individuals, two dead and two seriously injured, were pulled out from the pile of rocks by a navy rescue team and sent to a hospital in Touliu.

More buildings in Nantou County also collapsed after yesterday's quake. Most of those buildings, including several schools and a Buddhist monastery, are believed to be located along fault lines which have been active since last Tuesday.

A number of roads in Nantou County and other neighboring counties, already affected by Tuesday's deadly quake, were blocked by landslides after yesterday's aftershock.

Chen Chiu-hciung (陳久雄), an engineer sent down to Shuili (水里), Nantou County, by the Construction and Planning Administration (營建署) under the Ministry of the Interior (MOI), was hit by falling stones during the aftershock while he was working, and died on the way to the hospital.

The tremor also interrupted Taipower's supply of electricity in central Taiwan, leaving some 1.5 million households in Taichung City, Taichung County, Nantou County and Changhua County without power for at least six hours.

In Taipei, the city government's Bureau of Public Works received reports of cracks seen on the Chunghsiao Bridge (忠孝橋) connecting Taipei and Sanchung Cities after yesterday's aftershock.

Seismologists said threatening aftershocks are still expected in the following days, as neither the magnitude nor frequency of aftershocks has been found to be subsiding.

Nantou County Commissioner Peng Pai-shien (彭百顯) appealed for donations of more tents, sleeping bags and blankets to meet the demand of the rising number of homeless people.

He also warned that the number of safe wide open spaces available to the homeless has been rapidly shrinking as the number of homeless continues to increase.

Meanwhile, President Lee Teng-hui's tour of disaster areas yesterday was marred by the death of a six-year-old girl in Puli.

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