Seven people were killed and 260 injured after a magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Hualien County on Tuesday night, the Central Emergency Operation Center said yesterday.
The center’s data showed that four buildings in Hualien City had collapsed or tilted due to the earthquake: the Marshal Hotel (統帥飯店), the Yun Men Tsui Ti (雲門翠堤大樓) commercial and residential building and two apartment buildings on Guosheng 6th Street.
As of 9:30pm yesterday, 67 people were reported missing, 39 of whom were thought to have been in the Yun Men Tsui Ti building.
However, rescue efforts at the Yun Men Tsui Ti building have been precarious, with the building tilting ever more toward the ground amid multiple aftershocks.
A total of 31,558 households were waiting for their water supply to resume, while 186 households were left without electricity, the data showed.
About 560 people have been placed in shelters after being evacuated from their homes on Tuesday night, the data showed.
Photo: Ritchie B. Tongo, EPA
Huang Jui-tien (黃瑞添), a resident of Hualien County’s Jian Township (吉安), told the Taipei Times in a telephone interview that even though there have been aftershocks since a magnitude 5.8 earthquake on Sunday night, he felt that Tuesday’s earthquake was much bigger, because things started to shake vertically instead of horizontally.
Huang said he and his family rushed out of their home during the earthquake and returned to find that all of the bonsai plants in the house had fallen to the ground.
“We were afraid to go back to sleep again, because the aftershocks continued almost nonstop,” he said.
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
Most restaurants and shops in the area were closed yesterday, Huang said, adding that convenience stores had run out of hot food.
Asked what his family would do, as the aftershocks are expected to continue over the next few weeks, he said: “Well, life has to go on.”
The Ministry of National Defense has deployed 661 military personnel to assist rescue efforts.
Photo: Lin Hsin-han, Taipei Times
Central Weather Bureau (CWB) data showed that Tuesday’s earthquake, which measured magnitude 6.0 on the Richter scale, occurred at 11:50pm at a depth of 10km and its epicenter was 18.3km northeast of Hualien County Hall, which is near the coast.
The earthquake’s seismic intensity was level 7 in Hualien County’s Taroko Gorge (太魯閣峽谷) and Yilan County’s Nanao Township (南澳).
Seismic intensity refers to the degree of vibration felt at a location during an earthquake.
On the nation’s zero-to-seven seismic intensity scale, level 7 indicates shaking so violent that people cannot move at will.
As of 5pm yesterday, the bureau had recored 159 aftershocks since Tuesday night’s big quake.
The bureau had previously said that Sunday’s magnitude 5.8 earthquake was the main earthquake and that it expected tectonic movement to gradually cease after multiple aftershocks.
However, it changed its evaluation yesterday, saying that Tuesday’s magnitude 6.0 temblor was the main earthquake and Sunday’s was one of its 94 foreshocks.
“This seismic sequence has completely changed the way we think about earthquakes in this region,” Seismological Center Acting Director Chen Kuo-chang (陳國昌) said.
Chen confirmed that Tuesday’s earthquake was the largest in Hualien County since the bureau began conducting more precise observations of earthquakes in 1972.
The bureau said that the earthquake occurred as a result of an interaction between the Philippine Sea Plate and Eurasia Plate, with some seismologists saying that this might trigger movement of the Milun Fault, along which the damaged buildings were constructed.
In related news, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that 31 foreign nationals were reportedly affected by Tuesday’s earthquake, including 14 South Koreans, nine Japanese, two Czechs, two Singaporeans and one Philippine national.
The nationalities of the remaining three have yet to be confirmed, the ministry said in a statement.
The two Singaporeans and 13 South Koreans were in a temporary shelter at a stadium in Hualien, with only one of them, a South Korean, having sustained minor injuries, it said.
The other 16 foreign nationals received treatment for various injuries at four hospitals in the Hualien area and were later discharged or would soon be discharged, the statement said.
The injuries ranged from wrist and foot injuries to dry powder inhalation, it added.
One South Korean woman living in the Yun Men Tsui Ti building was rescued at about 10am yesterday, the statement said.
Additional reporting by CNA
KEEP AWAY: People should wear a mask in places where they cannot follow social distancing rules, the CECC said, adding that it would publish detailed guidelines today The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced 16 new cases of COVID-19, including two domestic cases, as it urged people to practice social distancing in public spaces by keeping a distance of at least 1m when outdoors and 1.5m indoors. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that seven of the new cases tested positive upon their arrival at the airport, four were under home quarantine, one was under home isolation and two were under self-health management, while the two domestic cases sought treatment on their own. The domestic cases are a man in his
Taiwan will negotiate with the WHO about its participation without Beijing’s help and intervention as more countries, including Australia and Japan, are partnering with Taiwan to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a telephonic roundtable with reporters on Monday also supported Taiwan’s role in the WHO, saying the US Department of State would do its best to assist Taiwan’s “appropriate role” in the world’s highest health policy setting body, Voice of America reported. In a Japan Business Press report published on Sunday, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou (孔鉉佑) said
Japan’s ruling party yesterday proposed the nation’s biggest-ever stimulus package of ￥60 trillion (US$554 billion) as the COVID-19 pandemic locks the economy in a recession. The sum includes ￥20 trillion in fiscal measures with private initiatives and other elements likely making up the rest, the proposal by the Liberal Democratic Party showed. More than ￥10 trillion, or the equivalent of a 5 percentage point cut in the sales tax rate, would be handed out to the public in a combination of cash, subsidies and coupons, the plan showed. The proposal puts an initial figure on a stimulus package that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo
Malaysian authorities have advised women to wear makeup, not to nag their husbands and speak with a cartoon character’s soothing voice during the virus lockdown, sparking a flood of mockery online. Like many countries, Malaysia has ordered all citizens to stay at home to stem the spread of COVID-19, which, as of yesterday, had killed at least 39,070 people globally. In a series of online posters with the hashtag #WomenPreventCOVID19, the Malaysian Ministry of Women and Family Development issued advice on how to avoid domestic conflicts during the partial lockdown, which began on March 18. One of the campaign posters depicted