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Taiwan earthquake: Hundreds stranded after 7.4 magnitude quake

Taiwan earthquake: Hundreds stranded after 7.4 magnitude quake
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By Chris Lau and Antoinette Radford, CNN

Updated

11:38 p.m. ET, April 5, 2024

11:11 a.m. ET, April 4, 2024

Our live coverage of the Taiwan earthquake has ended. Follow the latest here or read through the updates below.

8:49 a.m. ET, April 4, 2024

More than 700 people are stranded following Taiwan earthquake

More than 700 people are stranded following the 7.4-magnitude earthquake that struck Taiwan’s northern Hualien County on Wednesday, according to Taiwan’s National Fire Agency (NFA).

Rescue efforts have been ongoing since Wednesday morning.

At least 10 people were killed, and 1,067 people were injured, according to the agency.

8:03 a.m. ET, April 4, 2024

Earthquake death toll rises to 10, Taiwan’s fire agency says

The death toll following the 7.4 magnitude earthquake in Taiwan has risen to 10, according to Taiwan’s National Fire Agency.

The person was found at Littile Zhuilu Trail on Thursday.

5:18 a.m. ET, April 4, 2024

Taiwan authorities say more than 600 people are still stranded and 42 are unaccounted for

From CNN’s Wayne Chang and Gladys Tsai in Taipei

Damaged buildings following an earthquake in Hualien, Taiwan, on Thursday, April 4.
Damaged buildings following an earthquake in Hualien, Taiwan, on Thursday, April 4. An Rong Xu/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Taiwan’s National Fire Agency (NFA) said in an update Thursday that 663 people remain stranded following the earthquake that struck the island’s northern Hualien County. 

The death toll remains at nine, and 1,067 people have been injured, according to the agency.

On Wednesday, more than 200 people were in shelters across Hualien County and 10,000 households were without water.

Dozens of people were also trapped in mines across the region on Wednesday.

  • 64 people were trapped at the Heping open pit mine in Hualian. The NFA said all of them were safely evacuated around Thursday noon. 
  • Seven people were trapped in Zhonghe mine. The NFA said six people were rescued from the mine located in a quarry.
4:04 a.m. ET, April 4, 2024

It’s afternoon in Taiwan. Here’s the latest on earthquake search and rescue efforts

From CNN staff

Rescue teams are trying to reach more than 600 people in eastern Taiwan following the strongest earthquake to hit the island in decades, as the number of people injured passed 1,000.

The 7.4 magnitude quake struck near Hualien County on the island’s east coast Wednesday. For such a large quake, the death toll remains relatively low and damage appears limited. As well as nine people dead, 1,050 were injured.

There are 663 people stranded but in contact with rescue teams, according to Taiwan’s National Fire Agency. Some 42 people are missing.

Here’s what we know:

  • Heping quarry: By midday Thursday, all 64 people stranded at the Heping quarry in Hualien had been safely evacuated, the fire agency said. Video showed rocks and debris across a trail leading to the site.
  • Zhonghe quarry: At a second quarry in Hualien, one person was killed by rockfall though six other workers were rescued. Dramatic video from the fire agency showed a helicopter airlifting them from a narrow outcrop of rock high up in the mountains.
  • Hotel workers: Among those trapped were 50 hotel staff in remote Taroko Gorge, who had been traveling to work in minibuses when the quake hit. After being unreachable for most of Wednesday, three workers hiked to the hotel in the gorge and reported that the rest were safe, the official Central News Agency reported.
  • In Hualien: The local government reported on Thursday afternoon that there are 92 damaged buildings in the affected areas. More than 200 people are in shelters in Hualien County, nearly 10,000 households are without water, and more than 300 households are without electricity, they said.
  • Shattered lives: Residents in hard-hit Hualien face a lengthy clean up as teams work to clear debris and assess buildings for structural damage. “My mind has gone blank, seeing that all of my life’s work has vanished,” a liquor store owner told CNN. Hualien’s mayor told CNN the damage in the city is mainly confined to buildings that partially collapsed and that engineers are assessing how hazardous they are. Some “can only be demolished and rebuilt,” he said.
  • More tremors: Aftershocks continue to rattle Taiwan. As of Thursday afternoon, more than 40 tremors of magnitude 4 or higher have struck near the island’s east coast, including one of 6.4-magnitude, according to data from the US Geological Survey.

This post has been updated with the latest figures.

3:40 a.m. ET, April 4, 2024

“It’s too scary being alone,” says Hualien resident, 81

From CNN’s Chris Lau

Wang Qiu Xia Zhen speaks during an interview in Hualien, Taiwan on April 3.
Wang Qiu Xia Zhen speaks during an interview in Hualien, Taiwan on April 3. TaiwanPlus

Faced with the threat of more damage from aftershocks, some Hualien residents spent the night outside.

Wang Qiu Xia Zhen, 81, said she registered to stay at an emergency shelter because she was unable to sleep at home.

“It’s too scary being alone. I took three sleeping pills but I still couldn’t sleep,” she told CNN affiliate TaiwanPlus.

Wednesday’s 7.4 magnitude quake is the strongest to hit Taiwan since 1999, according to the Central Weather Administration. That year, a 7.7 magnitude quake hit south of the capital Taipei, killing 2,400 people and injuring 10,000 others.

But the damage and limited number of deaths from Wednesday’s quake is far lower. Everyday life for those in Taipei had generally returned to normal on Thursday but residents closer to the epicenter face a lengthy clean up.

As of Thursday afternoon, more than 40 tremors of magnitude 4 or higher have struck near the island’s east coast, including one of 6.4-magnitude, according to data from the US Geological Survey.

11:36 p.m. ET, April 5, 2024

“That day was a mess”: Quake-hit Hualien residents face a big clean up

From CNN’s Helen Regan, Nectar Gan, Gladys Tsai, Jan Camenzind Broomby and Kenza Wilks

Residents in Hualien faced a lengthy clean up on Thursday as teams worked to clear debris and assess buildings for structural damage. 

Hualien resident Deng Huimei, 63, told CNN his house “was a mess” following the quake and though it was still standing, huge cracks had appeared along the side of the staircase and “chunks of wall that had fallen off were all over the ground.”

He was putting groceries away when the quake hit.

“I had put everything in the fridge, and then the earth started shaking violently. At first, it was up and down, but later it was shaking very violently in the north-south direction. I had to hold onto things to stay steady, otherwise, I would have been knocked down by the shaking. So I was very scared,” the retiree said. 

Deng said he has lived through multiple earthquakes and before fleeing his house, grabbed a bicycle helmet and sturdy shoes to protect himself from broken glass and debris.

“I had to protect my feet from getting cut, a lot of glass was broken,” he said.

“I took my safety helmet, changed my shoes, and I wanted to see if there was anyone outside who needed help.”

Hualien Mayor Wei Jia-Yan told CNN the damage in the city is mainly confined to buildings that have partially collapsed and that structural engineers are assessing how hazardous they are. Some, he said, “can only be demolished and rebuilt.”

He said children there are taught from a young age that “Hualien is a place with frequent earthquakes.” 

“We must hold our heads, hide well, and run out quickly when it’s not shaking. So as long as you take care of yourself, it should be very safe,” he said.

1:47 a.m. ET, April 4, 2024

More than 40 large aftershocks have struck Taiwan’s east coast

From CNN’s Chris Lau

Aftershocks continued to rattle Taiwan a day after the 7.4 magnitude quake struck just south of Hualien County, the island’s worst-affected region.

As of Thursday afternoon, more than 40 aftershocks of magnitude 4 or higher have struck near Taiwan’s east coast, including a 6.4-magnitude tremor, according to data from the United States Geological Survey.

Taiwanese officials warned aftershocks as high as magnitude 7 could continue until the end of the week.

1:30 a.m. ET, April 4, 2024

Stranded hotel staff spotted in drone footage at Taroko Gorge

From CNN’s Helen Regan, Nectar Gan and Gladys Tsai

Staff from Silks Place Taroko trapped at a tunnel appeal for help.
Staff from Silks Place Taroko trapped at a tunnel appeal for help. Taiwan’s National Fire Agency (NFA)

Among those trapped following the massive earthquake in Taiwan were 50 hotel employees in Hualien County, who had been traveling to work in minibuses when the quake hit. 

After being unreachable for most of Wednesday, three workers managed to hike to the Silks Place Hotel in Taroko Gorge and reported that the rest were safe, according to Taiwan’s official Central News Agency.

Video from the fire agency Thursday showed some of the trapped hotel staff in a road tunnel in the gorge, with visible damage to their van.

“They’ve been found,” a person can be heard saying.

Hualien fire service said rescuers were waiting for roads to be cleared to enter the tunnel, where 20 more tourists were also stranded, according to CNA.

Taroko Gorge is a popular tourist destination renowned for its natural beauty. Three hikers died at the gorge Wednesday after they were struck by falling rocks following the 7.4 magnitude quake.

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