Tens of thousands of traumatized residents huddled in makeshift emergency shelters or out in the open last night after a string of earthquakes in northern Japan killed at least 21 people and reportedly injured 1,800 others. Eight people were believed missing. \nA 6.8-magnitude quake centered in Ojiya, about 260km northwest of Tokyo, rocked the area Saturday evening, knocking a bullet train from its rails, ripping through roadways and rattling buildings as far away as the Japanese capital. Several strong quakes followed through the night, and aftershocks continued to jolt the area through yesterday evening. \nThe disaster was the deadliest quake in Japan since a massive tremor struck the western city of Kobe in January 1995 and killed more than 6,000 people. \nTens of thousands of rural residents -- many of them elderly -- were evacuated from flattened homes to emergency shelters. Officials handed out blankets to guard against chilly nights and flew in bottled water since most utility services were severed. \nJapan's military used helicopters to airlift stranded villagers from a riverside hamlet, Shiotani, that was cut off when the bridge connecting it to Ojiya was toppled. Several other villages were isolated, including Yamagoshi, a mountain village of 600, where a landslide swept away the only road. \nThe injured overwhelmed small local hospitals, where patients were being treated in the hallways. \nTemperatures were expected to drop to 13?C in the evening, and some 60 people crowded into the lobby of the Nagaoka City Hall to take advantage of the heating, laying out thin foldable mattresses or lawn chairs from home. \n"I don't have any water, electricity or gas in my apartment, so I have no choice but to be here," said Naomi Matsuki, from Nagaoka. \nSewage and water mains burst, gas and telephone services were down. Homes in 36 cities, towns and villages in Niigata prefecture had no water. Close to 124,000 homes were without power yesterday evening, Tohoku Electric said on its Web site.
HELPING HAND: Taiwan is ready to help other nations and will not sit idly by while the global fight against the coronavirus continues, President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan, as a responsible member of the international community, is to offer humanitarian assistance to nations hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic by sending them masks and medicine, as well as sharing with them an electronic system that the government has been using to track down people that need to be quarantined, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday. With the nation’s daily production having reached 13 million masks and soon to reach 15 million, the government is to donate 10 million masks to medical personnel in nations most severely affected by the coronavirus, Tsai said at the Presidential Office in Taipei. The
NINE NEW CASES: The CECC said two locally transmitted cases of COVID-19, and seven imported ones – five women and two men – brought the nation’s total to 348 People who refuse to wear a mask on public transportation after being asked to do so would face a NT$3,000 to NT$15,000 fine, effective immediately, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday after announcing nine additional COVID-19 cases. In a move to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications on Tuesday announced that people must wear masks on trains and intercity buses, while Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, on Tuesday said that people should wear them when they cannot maintain a social distance of 1.5m indoors. Chen yesterday
TRILLION PROPOSED: The premier said the goal was to keep ‘businesses solvent, the unemployment rate down, transportation and logistics going, and cash flowing’ The Executive Yuan yesterday announced an expanded economic stimulus package totaling NT$1.05 trillion (US$34.64 billion), including NT$81.6 billion in subsidies for employers to prevent a spike in unemployment. The increased budget comprises a special budget of NT$210 billion, up from the NT$60 billion already passed by the Legislative Yuan; NT$140 billion — up from NT$40 billion — to be appropriated from the general budget; and NT$700 billion in loans to industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) told a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei. The NT$150 billion increase in the
The Central Epidemic Command Center yesterday released a set of revised criteria for reporting suspected COVID-19 cases, while also announcing its guidelines for disclosing patients’ personal information. The center said that its advisory specialist panel revised the definition for “severe pneumonia with novel pathogens” — COVID-19 infection — by expanding the criteria needed to report suspected cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that physicians should report people for testing if they meet one of three clinical conditions: They have a fever, acute respiratory infection, or a lack of smell or taste; there is a