Man dies as strong earthquake topples building in Taiwan

At least one person has died after a strong earthquake shook much of Taiwan, toppling a three-storey building and temporarily trapping four people inside, leaving about 400 tourists stranded on a mountain and derailing part of a train.

The 6.9-magnitude quake was the largest of more than 75 that rattled the island’s south-eastern coast between Saturday evening, when a 6.4-magnitude quake struck the same area, and Sunday afternoon.

Most of the damage appeared to be north of the epicentre in the town of Chishang, in northern Taitung county, at the relatively shallow depth of four miles (6km).

Taiwanese state media, the Central News Agency, said a man with the surname Huang died at a factory in Hualien when a piece of machinery fell on him.

A three-storey building, which had a 7-Eleven convenience store on the ground floor and residences on the upper ones, collapsed in the nearby town of Yuli in Hualien, CNA said. The 70-year-old owner of the building and his wife were rescued first, but it took longer to get to a 39-year-old woman and her five-year-old daughter.

A photo released by the Hualien city government showed the girl lying on a blanket and being handed down a metal ladder from the top of the debris by rescue workers in orange uniforms.

A five-year-old girl is rescued from the collapsed building in Yuli
A five-year-old girl is rescued from the collapsed building in Yuli. Photograph: AP

The top two storeys of the building were left strewn across a small street, with electricity wires pulled down by the fallen structure.

More than 7,000 households were reported to be without power in Yuli and water pipes were damaged.

Police and firefighters rushed to a bridge collapse on a two-lane road in what appeared to be a rural area of the town, where three people and one or more vehicles may have fallen off, according to media reports.

This couple is stranded on a bridge between two collapsed sections of a highway in SE Taiwan after multiple quakes struck the area, including one measuring 6.8 which hit at 14:44

— Tim Culpan (@tculpan) September 18, 2022

Also in Yuli, a landslide trapped nearly 400 tourists on a mountain known for the orange day lilies that blanket its slopes at this time of year, the CNA said. They had no electricity and a weak mobile phone signal.

Debris from a falling canopy on a platform at Dongli railway station in Fuli – between Yuli and the epicentre at Chishang – hit a passing train, derailing six cars, state media reported, citing the railway administration. None of the 20 passengers were injured.

Taiwanese residents shared footage of the earthquake’s impact on social media.

One video featured a couple trapped on a bridge in a rural area, with the raised roadway in front and behind them having collapsed. CCTV footage also showed the moment a roof collapsed on an indoor badminton court, forcing players to run for cover.

The two largest quakes – on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon – as well as several aftershocks, were felt at the north end of the island in the capital, Taipei. In the city of Taoyuan, west of Taipei and 130 miles north of the epicentre, a man was injured when a ceiling collapsed on the fifth floor of a sports centre.

Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, urged people to be vigilant for further aftershocks but said the government was “in control of the situation”.

Earthquakes are common in Taiwan, due to its proximity to the edges of the Eurasian and Philippine tectonic plates.

The most disastrous quake in recent history occurred in 1999, when more than 2,400 people were killed and 11,000 injured by a 7.3-magnitude earthquake in Nantou county.

The US Geological Survey initially gave a higher reading of Sunday’s earthquake than local authorities, initially measuring it at 7.2-magnitude before downgrading it to 6.9.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami advisory for several southern Japanese islands near Taiwan, but later withdrew it.


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