Update: There have been two confirmed deaths caused by the earthquake. The number of injured individuals currently stands at 198 individuals according to a CNN report.
Original report follows.
Several people are reported trapped and scores injured after massive magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck Taiwan earlier today. According to BBC News, the powerful tremor struck Taiwan at around 23:30 local time (15:50 GMT). Initial reports add that the earthquake had its epicenter around 20 kilometers (12 miles) off the eastern coast of Taiwan.
While the true extent of the damage caused the quake is yet to be ascertained, there has been one confirmed report of a building collapse in the city of Hualien near the east coast of the country. At the time of this report, rescue efforts are underway to free trapped people from inside the structure thought to be a mixed-use hotel-cum-residential building. Several photographs of the collapsed structure have been posted on social media websites. At this time, authorities have not revealed if the collapse has resulted in casualties. The actual number of injured people remains unknown. As of now, 28 people have been rescued from the collapsed structure, an official from the Hualien Fire Department said. The official went on to reveal that the lower basement and the ground floor of the structure gave way and led to the collapse. He also confirmed that there are people still trapped inside the structure.
“We know there are people who are trapped inside – we can see lights inside the hotel. People with phones are shining their lights to let people know they’re there.”
Apart from the collapsed structure, several other high-rise buildings have also reported severe structural damage. While no severe damage was reported from Taipei, the capital city, several people there confirmed that they felt the earthquake. Taipei is located nearly 170 kilometers (100 miles) from the epicenter of the earthquake.
There are fresh reports coming in about two bridges in Hualien being partially damaged by the quake; both have since been sealed off. There are also reports of several smaller aftershocks that continue to rattle residents living in the affected area. A CNN report later confirmed that a smaller, magnitude 5.1 aftershock also hit the area shortly after the largest 6.4 magnitude tremor.
Following the earthquake, the country’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, has directed all the state machinery to commence the relief efforts without delay.
Incidentally, this magnitude 6.4 tremor happened on the same day another earthquake of the same magnitude struck the country two years ago, resulting in the deaths of 116 people.