Thu, Feb 08, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Hualien Earthquake: School damage exceeds NT$15 million

HARDEST-HIT:Hualien County’s Mingyi Elementary School suffered the most severe damage, estimated at NT$7 million, the Ministry of Education said yesterday

By Ann Maxon and Shelley Shen  /  Staff reporters

A damaged temple is yesterday pictured in Hualien following Tuesday night’s magnitude 6 earthquake.

Photo: CNA

Tuesday night’s earthquake has damaged 53 schools at an estimated cost of more than NT$15 million (US$512,470), the Ministry of Education said yesterday.

Of the 53 schools, 23 are in Hualien County and seven are in Kaohsiung, while four each were damaged in Miaoli County, Taipei and Tainan, Department of Student Affairs and Special Education official Chen Tsung-chih (陳宗志) said.

Hualien County’s Mingyi Elementary School suffered the most severe damage, estimated at NT$7 million, Chen said.

The earthquake has left the school with torn water pipes, cracked ditches, broken tiles and a malfunctioning overhead door, the Hualien County Department of Education said.

Hualien County’s Beichang Elementary School, where the ministry estimates losses to total NT$3 million, has fissured pillars and deep cracks in the building’s expansion joints, the department said.

The loss for schools in Hualien County — estimated at NT$13 million — is the highest, followed by Kaohsiung at NT$1.4 million and Hsinchu at NT$180,000, Chen said.

So far, only one student has been confirmed injured, the ministry said, adding that the Huagang Junior High School student in Hualien County scraped their left leg, but has received medical treatment and returned home at 2am yesterday.

Students at elementary, junior and senior-high schools across Taiwan are on winter break. The new semester is scheduled to begin on Feb. 21.

Meanwhile, 70 cellphone base stations were damaged, of which 24 had been repaired as of press time last night, the National Communications Commission said.

The damaged base stations belong to five major telecom carriers, with a majority owned by Taiwan Mobile, Far EasTone Telecommunications and Chunghwa Telecom, commission spokesperson Weng Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said.

Most of the base stations went offline because of power outages, Weng said, adding that they can be repaired after the power supply is restored.

In addition to telecom signals, 732 households in Hualien reported cable TV disruptions, Weng said, adding that the cable system operator was told to repair it as soon as possible.

The nation’s emergency alert system functioned well on Tuesday night, as many people reported that their cellphones sounded an alarm as the earthquake hit, the commission said.

According to the commission, the earthquake happened at 11:50pm on Tuesday. The Central Weather Bureau sent a presidential alert to the National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction’s warning system at 11:51:02.505pm, which was disseminated by telecom carriers at 11:51:03.041pm.

On average, it took 4G telecom service users about five seconds to receive the alert, whereas 3G users received the message after about 10 seconds, the commission said.

Additional reporting by CNA

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