A magnitude 6.4 earthquake has hit Taiwan. The quake struck the southern part of Taiwan in the city known as Tainan and caused several buildings to topple, leaving a trail of destruction. There are no immediate reports confirming the current number of injuries or deaths, although it appears many are injured and a few are presumed dead.
According to the LA Times, at least one of the buildings that fell in the Taiwan earthquake was a residential building that was 17 stories tall. At least 123 people were pulled out by rescue crews and it’s unclear how many residents might still be inside.
Taiwan’s China Post newspaper reported, “Collapsed buildings reported in Tainan, with rescue workers arriving on scene. The city government there has set up a level one emergency response centre. Onlookers are urged not to block access to emergency crews moving into the area.”
The epicenter of the earthquake was on an island and it was especially bad because the quake was shallow, only about six miles underground. The earthquake in Taiwan could be felt as far away as some parts of mainland China. Tainan City government officials have reported that emergency response centers have been set up for those displaced or put out by the earthquake.
Derek Hoerler is a teacher, originally from California who now lives in Tainan. He was there during the earthquake. He said, “It was not a rolling gentle earthquake, but a violent jerking motion. The walls were shaking and you could hear the building and windows moving. It lasted at least a minute with swaying afterwards. I felt complete terror.
He added, “Biggest earthquake I’ve felt, and I’m from California. Now I just feel worried for the people in Tainan, where buildings collapsed.”
Fox News reports that rescue crews were using cranes, ladders, and other rescue equipment to get to people who could still be trapped in buildings following the Taiwan quake. Reports of water and gas line leaks have also been circulating. News footage has shown people with their arms around rescue workers as they’re being saved from toppled buildings after the earthquake.
A Swiss news outlet, SWI, issued a news story stating that at least two reporters were killed in the Taiwan earthquake. They also reported that at least 26 people were taken to a local hospital in Taiwan.
Tainan City Government Fire Bureau information officer Lee Po Min has estimated that there are about 60 households and 240 people living in one of the buildings that toppled in the quake.
Tainan, the area that was the epicenter of the quake, is home to about two million people. Taiwan is home to a known area of increased seismic activities, called the “Pacific Ring of Fire.” The area is frequently struck by earthquakes, including those of a high magnitude. The last 6.4 magnitude earthquake in Taiwan occurred in April 2015, but it caused less damage because the temblor of the quake was deeper than today’s quake.
The U.S. Geological Survey said that the effects of shallow earthquakes are amplified and can often cause greater destruction.
A British man in Taiwan named Barry Knapp told BBC news reporters, “”I was just in bed, about to fall asleep, and shaking started happening.”
[Photo credits: Getty Images/Gary S Chapman & John Crux Photography and AP Images]