Taiwan natural disaster: Aftershocks hamper rescue efforts

Howard TerryFeb 10, 2018

The Government of Saint Lucia has expressed condolences to the Government and People of the Republic of China (ROC) Taiwan, following a 6.4 magnitude quake which has left several dead and some still missing.

Taiwanese broadcasters say two Canadians are among those killed in the quake that hit the country this week.

Fu Kun-Chi, head of Hualien County, said at a news briefing that the rescue work faces great difficulties with very limited space for rescuers to enter.

At the city's Marshal Hotel, rescuers trying to free two trapped Taiwanese pulled out one alive, but the other person was declared dead, the Government said.

The military will work with local government officials to develop a plan to demolish a hotel, a residential building and other unsafe buildings, it said in its statement.

The remaining missing, a Chinese family of five, were also hotel guests there.

But less than an hour after the natural disaster, the policeman who lost his home plunged right back to work and joined in the search for people thought to be in the damaged structures who were unaccounted for. Efforts to drill into the hotel rooms where the missing were thought to be trapped was made more hard by the angle of the building's lean and the collapsed state of the interior.

"For the students from St Lucia, I would like to let you know they are all safe", Ambassador Shen said.

Other mainland authorities such as the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, Fujian Province, and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region also said they would each donate 1 million yuan to Hualien.

"I had to keep composed so I could carry on my work".

Hualien is one of Taiwan's most popular tourist destinations as it lies on the picturesque east coast rail line and near the popular Taroko Gorge.

The government said 16 foreigners sought medical treatment for minor injuries.

A magnitude 7.6 quake in central Taiwan killed more than 2,300 people in 1999.

That quake ushered in stricter building codes but many of Taiwan's older buildings remain perilously vulnerable to even moderate quakes.

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