Taiwan earthquake: 9 dead, over 1,000 injured; rescue operations underway


The most powerful earthquake to hit Taiwan in nearly a quarter-century has led to nine fatalities with 143 individuals still trapped in the rubbles and over 1,000 injured, the island nation’s Central News Agency (CNA) reported citing local and central authorities.

The casualties, all reported in Hualien, encompass four victims in Taroko Gorge, two near the Dachingshui and Huide tunnels, one in a residential building in Hualien City, and one in the Hejen mining area, with most resulting from rockfalls.

Furthermore, the nine deceased included five women and four men, as per available data till 10:00 pm Wednesday, according to CNA.

According to the National Fire Agency, out of 143, seven people were trapped in the Renhe mining area, 47 hotel employees and 24 tourists at Jiuqudong, 64 individuals in the Heping mining area, and one on the Jhuilu Trekking and Hiking trail.

Chen Cheng-chi, Deputy Commander of the Central Emergency Operation Centre (CEOC) and Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs highlighted that current rescue efforts are primarily concentrated on Provincial Highway No-8.

He emphasised the importance of rescue personnel prioritising their safety, particularly during nighttime operations.

However, an earlier report from Silks Place Taroko indicated that three of its employees had made their way to the hotel from nearby Jiuqudong and confirmed the safety of the other 47 employees.

Moreover, these employees stated that over 20 tourists remain trapped near Jiuqudong but are safe and awaiting rescue.

Meanwhile, the CEOC announced that 75 individuals who were previously trapped in multiple tunnels on the Dachingshui and Jinwen sections of Provincial Highway No. 9 have all been successfully rescued following the clearance of roads by the transportation ministry.

The Hualien County Government disclosed that over 600 individuals are still stranded and have been provided accommodation within Taroko National Park, including guests and staff at Silks Place Taroko, Tienhsiang Youth Activity Center, and Taroko Village Hotel.

In response, the New Taipei City Government’s Social Welfare Department established 15 shelters across four districts to assist affected residents.

As of 8:00 pm, 269 people were utilizing these shelter facilities.

The Kaohsiung Fire Bureau reported the rescue of two foreign nationals, a 29-year-old man and a 35-year-old woman, around 8 pm on the Shakadang Trail. Both individuals sustained minor injuries but remained conscious and were subsequently transported to a hospital by the Hualien County Fire Bureau after receiving on-site medical treatment.

In terms of transportation, the Civil Aviation Administration arranged additional flights and transportation to outlying islands for the upcoming Tomb Sweeping Day from April 4-7. This includes eight extra flights to Hualien on Wednesday and Thursday, as reported by CNA.

Railway services are slated to resume Thursday morning, aiming to facilitate orderly travel arrangements for the public.

Regarding water and electricity supply, the Ministry of Economic Affairs reported that 371,869 households
experienced power outages nationwide, with 1,073 households still without power late Wednesday. Among them, 660 are expected to have power restored later in the evening.

Additionally, 125,675 households initially suffered water stoppages across Taiwan, with 14,718 households still facing water shortages, including 14,500 in Hualien. Restoration efforts are expected to be completed by midnight Thursday, with water trucks dispatched to affected areas in the interim.

Furthermore, the ministry noted that 20 of the 80 damaged cell phone base stations had been repaired by late Wednesday. The National Communications Commission aims to gradually restore the remaining stations by Friday, the Central News Agency reported.