A deadly earthquake struck southern Taiwan, toppling buildings and leaving at least 13 dead, officials said
The 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck about 30 miles east of Taiwan’s capital, Tainan, just before 4 a.m.
At least 484 people were hurt, Taiwan’s Central Emergency Operation Center said.
Nine buildings collapsed and many were left tilting at alarming angles. At least 30 people remain missing. Tainan’s mayor said people were alive but trapped under the rubble and all means would be used to rescue them.
A baby was among at least four people killed when a high-rise building, containing 100 homes, collapsed.
One of the worst affected was the 17-storey Wei Kuan apartment complex, home to at least 256 people.
More than 200 people were rescued, but a baby, young girl and two adult men did not survive, officials said. At least 70 people were taken to hospital.
Kate Lao Shaffner, an English teacher who lives around 18 miles from the quake’s epicenter, said the “extremely violent” shaking woke her entire family.
Terrifyingly, Lao Shaffner and her husband weren’t able to get to their oldest daughter’s bedroom.
“My 7-year-old was in a different room, we could hear her cry for us but it was shaking so violently we couldn’t get out of our beds to walk to get to her,” she said.
When the shaking stopped Lao Shaffner’s husband got their daughter from her bedroom. The family was unhurt.
Two died in Tainan’s Gueiren District, including a woman who was hit by a fallen water tower.
“I was watching TV and after a sudden burst of shaking, I heard a boom. I opened my metal door and saw the building opposite fall down,” a 71-year-old neighbor who gave his name as Chang told Reuters.
Chang, a plumber, grabbed his tools and a ladder and pried open some window bars to rescue a woman crying for help.
“She asked me to go back and rescue her husband, child, but I was afraid of a gas explosion so I didn’t go in,”
Chang told Reuters. “At the time there were more people calling for help, but my ladder wasn’t long enough so there was no way to save them.”
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said every effort was being taken to rescue survivors. A 1,200-bed shelter was established at a nearby military school. The earthquake occurred at a depth of around 14 miles, and Tainan was the hardest hit city, the U.S.G.S. said.
There have also been at least five aftershocks.