April 13, 2024

Brighton Journal

Complete News World

Taiwan earthquake: Mountain 'rained rocks like bullets' – survivor

Taiwan earthquake: Mountain 'rained rocks like bullets' – survivor
  • Written by Robert Wingfield Hayes and Kelly Ng
  • In Hualien and Singapore

Video explanation,

Impact of a 7.4 magnitude earthquake in Taiwan

Rescuers in Taiwan are working to reach more than 600 stranded people, a day after the island was hit by its worst earthquake in 25 years.

One survivor told how the tremors caused rockslides “like bullets” around the coal mine where he worked.

A 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck an area near eastern Hualien County, killing nine people and injuring more than a thousand.

Some people who were stuck in tunnels and near a national park were rescued by helicopters, but 34 of them are still missing.

The official number of people trapped or stranded rose significantly – from about 100 to 646 – on Thursday as people began to restore phone signal in mountainous areas.

Most of them are not believed to be in danger, but are stranded due to road blockades. Officials are now trying to find the best way to get them out.

Local reports say that food supplies were airdropped to dozens of people trapped in these areas.

“The mountain started raining rocks like bullets, and we had nowhere to run, so everyone ran next to sandbags for cover,” the survivor, identified only as Zhou, told Taiwan's Central News Agency.

Three of the nine who died were hikers on the trail leading to Taroko National Park, named after a gorge just outside the city of Hualien.

In Hualien City, the capital of the province where the quake occurred, relief efforts are progressing quickly, with workers using excavators and other heavy equipment to demolish many damaged buildings.

On Thursday morning, the BBC also watched aid workers remove huge boulders – the size of cars – that had fallen near railway tracks so regular train services could run again.

They are also using large amounts of gravel and rocks to support a 10-storey building known as the Uranus Building, which has been leaning down since the quake – to prevent it from collapsing in the event of another aftershock.

Local reports stated that a teacher died in the building when she returned to rescue her cat.

Comment on the photo,

The red brick Uranus building is shown leaning precariously

Hsu Chiu Yue, who was working opposite the Uranus building when it collapsed, told the BBC: “The building was so shaking that I could barely walk. I was really scared. I felt like my legs were out of control and I couldn’t control myself anymore. Thanks to my colleagues, they even dragged me.” We can get out.”

“There was a lot of dust coming into the building we were living in on our way out… [later] “I realized it came from the building across the street that had partially collapsed,” the 50-year-old said.

Another Hualien resident recounted how the earthquake had thrown her home into chaos.

“I was just getting out of bed when a clothes hanger and a low dresser fell,” Ocean Tsai told BBC China.

“It got stronger, and I started to worry about our belongings at home. Fortunately, except for the motorcycle flipping over, the damage was minimal.”

The quake, which occurred 18 kilometers (11 miles) south of the city of Hualien, was followed by more than 200 aftershocks, dozens of which reached a magnitude of at least 6.5 or more, hampering search and rescue efforts. Taiwanese authorities expect more aftershocks in the next few days.

Pictures show how the road collapsed outside the Qingshui Tunnel in Hualien, one of many winding roads that run along Hualien's rocky coast.

Routes like Qingshui are very popular with tourists because of their stunning views from the mountains across the Pacific Ocean. But they are also known to be treacherous, not least because of the potential for landslides.

To the north, the capital Taipei also shook violently, with footage showing destroyed buildings and people being evacuated. Local television stations broadcast footage of smashed vehicles and shops in chaos.

“The earthquake is close to the ground and is superficial. It was felt by the people of Taiwan and the offshore islands all over it. It is the strongest in 25 years,” Wu Xinfu, director of the Taipei Seismic Center, said on Wednesday.

Power outages and internet outages were reported across the island.

The quake also triggered tsunami warnings earlier on Wednesday for nearby Japanese and Philippine islands, but those warnings were later downgraded.

Although Taiwan has a history of earthquakes, locals and foreigners who have lived in Taipei for years say this is the strongest earthquake they have witnessed in decades.

The last major earthquake, measuring 7.6, occurred in September 1999, killing 2,400 people and destroying 5,000 buildings.

Additional reporting by Fan Wang in Singapore and Tzu Wei Liu, BBC China correspondent in Taipei

See also  The UK government puts in place tax cuts as the country prepares for recession