A cement worker has died and 79 others have been injured as of 7 p.m. after a series of earthquakes caused widespread damage to buildings and transport infrastructure across Taiwan Sunday.
The epicenter of the day’s strongest quake, which struck at 2:44 p.m. and registered 6.8 on the Richter scale, was located 42.7 kilometers north of Taitung County Hall at a depth of 7.0 km in Chishang Township, according to the Central Weather Bureau (CWB).
The most devasting damage to architecture was in Hualien’s Yuli Township where the tremblor toppled a residential building whose owners rented out the first floor as a 7-Eleven convenience store.
After a clerk broke one of the windows to escape, firefighters took three hours to rescue four more who were trapped in the building, consisting of elderly landlords, a shopper mother and her five year-old daughter.
The Gaoliao and Luntien bridges in Hualien collapsed and broke into many sections, with the county’s Yuli Bridge also suffering damage following the quakes, according to the Hualien County Disaster Response Center.
The center added that three individuals were rescued from the severely damaged Gaoliao bridge and taken to the hospital.
In Hualien County’s Yuli Township, a cement factory worker died after getting hit by falling debris, and firefighters took three hours to rescue four people from a collapsed three-story building.
The earthquake also caused widespread transport disruption in eastern Taiwan.
According to the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA), a falling concrete platform canopy at Dongli Station struck a Hualien-Taitung Tze-chiang limited express causing a six-car derailment.
The TRA said it had safely evacuated all 20 passengers following the derailment.
At 6 p.m. on Sunday, the TRA announced the temporary suspension of services between Hualien and Taitung due to track damage.
A total of 7,073 households in Hualien’s Yuli Township were left without power due to the quake, with neighborhoods in Taipei, New Taipei, Tainan and Kaohsiung also reporting blackouts.
In Taoyuan, several people were injured in an indoor badminton court after the ceiling collapsed from the tremblor.
Meanwhile, around 400 stranded tourists are being slowly evacuated off Chike Mountain in Hualien’s Yuli Township after landslides brought down electricity lines in the area, according to the Chike Mountain Community Development Association.
In addition, eight tourists in Pingtung County’s Indigenous Majia Township stranded by landslides were later safely evacuated from the area.
The Ministry of Education said that 72 schools across Taiwan had sustained damage caused by Sunday’s earthquakes, with a preliminary total of NT$4.61 million (US$147,310) in damages reported as of 8 p.m.
Earthquake disruption also saw the local government order schools in Hualien’s Yuli, Fuli and Zhuoxi Townships to close on Monday.
Taitung County ordered school and work closures for Monday in Guanshan, Luye, Chihshang, Haiduan and Yanping Townships.
Taitung also ordered workplaces and schools to close after 12 p.m. Monday in Wulu, Lidao, Xinwu, and Haiduan Villages, as well as Haiduan Township.
Meanwhile, Taitung’s Changbin Township ordered schools to close Monday but said that workplaces would open as usual at press time.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel