Fri, Apr 19, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Earthquake injures 17, causes damage

NO CASUALTIES:A building on Changan E Road in Taipei shifted, leading to the evacuation of 30 people, but was declared safe after an inspection yesterday

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Spilled asphalt is pictured on Songren Road in Taipei yesterday. Media originally reported that the image showed cracks caused by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake, but firefighters later confirmed it was only a darker shade of asphalt.

Photo: Tyrone Siu, Reuters

A magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck Hualien at 1:01pm yesterday, injuring at least 17 people and tilting some buildings.

The Central Weather Bureau said that it does not exclude the possibility that there would be aftershocks of magnitude 5 or larger in the next seven days.

The Executive Yuan at 1:10pm opened the Central Emergency Operation Center following an order from Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).

As of 4:30pm, 17 injuries had been reported: 15 people in Taipei and New Taipei City were struck by falling objects and broken glass, while two tourists in Hualien County were hit by falling rocks, the center said.

One of the tourists, a 40-year-old Malaysian man, had no vital signs when he was sent to a hospital in Hualien, but doctors were able to resuscitate him, it said.

The other tourist, a 54-year-old Taiwanese woman, was also sent to a hospital after sustaining a head injury, it said.

A building on Taipei’s Changan E Road shifted during the quake, leading to the evacuation of more than 30 people to a nearby park.

The building poses no immediate danger to the residents, Minister of the Interior Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said after an inspection with experts.

Another building on Xinyi Road was also found to have tilted, but the Taipei City Government later said that it had moved sideways during the 921 Earthquake in 1999 and did not tilt further yesterday.

The earthquake also damaged 20 schools at an estimated cost of more than NT$2.5 million (US$81,061), the Ministry of Education said.

Metal ceiling frames fell and some sinks collapsed in the men’s dorm at National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei, while ceilings broke in National Luodong Vocational High School in Yilan County and Buxin Elementary School in Chiayi County, it said.

SET News (三立新聞), Eastern Broadcasting Co (東森電視) and Taiwan Television (台視) reported that Songren Road in Taipei had cracked, airing a photograph that was circulating online.

However, firefighters on the scene confirmed there was no crack, only streaks of darker asphalt.

The government is monitoring the situation at the tilted buildings and working to ensure the safety of schools and transportation networks across the nation, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said on Facebook.

The public is advised to follow government updates and avoid spreading misinformation, she added.

The earthquake also affected 61 train services and 15,662 passengers, the Taiwan Railways Administration said.

The Directorate-General of Highways said that it closed the road between Taroko Gorge and Tayuling (大禹嶺), as well as the temporary central cross-island passageway on Highway No. 8.

The roads are to reopen today after safety risks are evaluated, the agency said.

The Taipei MRT system was also suspended after the quake and reopened at 2:30pm.

Seismological Center data showed that the earthquake occurred about 18.8km below Hualien County’s Hsiulin Township (秀林).

The highest local intensity of 7 was recorded in the county’s Tongmen Village (銅門).

Hualien City, Nantou County’s Hehuanshan (合歡山), Taichung’s Lishan (梨山), New Taipei City’s Wufenshan (五分山) and Yilan County’s Auhua Village (澳花) recorded intensities of 5.

Taipei, New Taipei City, Taichung, Changhua City, Miaoli City, Yilan City and Taoyuan’s Sanguang Village (三光) saw intensities of 4.

The quake was the nation’s first measuring at least magnitude 6 this year, center Director Chen Kuo-chang (陳國昌) said.

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