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Death toll rises to 10 in Taiwan earthquake; Rescue efforts continue for people stranded at Taroko Gorge


Ichiro Ohara / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Taiwanese soldiers stand outside a sloping building in the center of Hualien, eastern Taiwan, on Friday.

HUALIEN, Taiwan – The death toll from the powerful earthquake in Taiwan rose to 10 on Friday morning, according to Taiwanese authorities. A total of 1,106 people were injured, of which 18 are still missing.

Demolition work began Friday on a tilted building in central Hualien, eastern Taiwan, whose lower floors collapsed during Wednesday’s earthquake.

After the major earthquake, more than 480 tremors were recorded in Hualien and other areas around 7 a.m. on Friday. As rain is expected in Hualien this weekend, there is the possibility of secondary disasters such as landslides and rockfalls.

Taiwan’s military, police and fire brigades have mobilized about 8,200 troops for the rescue operation, using aircraft and other equipment.

On Thursday, firefighters aboard a helicopter rescued several people trapped in a mine.

More than 20 people have been rescued from a collapsed building in Hualien after more than eight hours of search and rescue efforts, according to Taiwan’s United Daily News.

However, a woman in her 30s died after being trapped between the first and second floors of a building that collapsed during a tremor minutes after the quake. She had gone back to save her cat.

Taiwan’s Prime Minister Chen Chien-jen visited a disaster relief center in Hualien on Thursday to assess the damage. He also visited a hospital where some injured people were being treated.

Rescue from Taroko Gorge

Several tourists were rescued Friday morning, about 48 hours after the earthquake. They were stranded at a hotel along Taroko Gorge, a tourist attraction in Hualien.

With at least 700 people still stranded, helicopter and other rescue operations have been underway since early morning.

Nine of the people stranded at the hotel were rescued by helicopter during the first round of rescue missions at around 8.10 am on Friday, according to a senior fire brigade official.

They were taken to a rescue control center at the base of the gorge.

An elderly woman with an injury to her right leg expressed relief when she arrived at the rescue center. A young girl who was rescued with her pregnant mother also smiled with relief as paramedics handed her a sweet roll.

According to paramedics on the ground, pregnant women and the elderly with chronic diseases are given priority in rescue operations.

Ambulances wait nearby to transport the seriously ill and injured, and helicopters fly overhead.

About 100 people are still stranded at a primary school near the gorge. A helicopter delivered food to them on Friday morning.

According to the rescue team, the roads and footpaths in the gorge are filled with rocks, preventing them from moving any further.

Rescuers are looking for six lost hikers. Another 28 people are waiting for rescue at campsites and other locations.

When the rescue team leader was interviewed by the media at the rescue control center, he said they would continue to work hard to rescue everyone.

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