February 22, 2019
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Rescue workers look for survivors in Taiwan after earthquake kills 5

Taipei, Feb 7 (efe-epa).- Rescue teams in Taiwan were searching on Wednesday for survivors after a magnitude 6.4 earthquake hit the eastern city of Hualien the night before, killing five people, injuring 254 and leaving 88 missing.

The rescue work was being carried out by 644 soldiers and 750 personnel of the police and the fire services, using excavators and detection equipment to find signs of life, Prime Minister Lai Ching-te said.

Search teams have rescued 224 people, according to data released by the Central Emergency Operation Center.

The prime minister announced aid worth 300 million Taiwan dollars ($10.2 million) for the victims and their families, including compensation for accommodation and medical treatment.

"We will not rest until all are found," Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen said on her official Twitter account.

The earthquake damaged many structures, including buildings and bridges, although the prime minister stressed that repair work had already begun and said he expected a swift return to normalcy.

The most affected buildings include the Hotel Tongshuai, where the lower floors collapsed trapping three employees, two of whom were rescued alive after 15 hours while the third was killed.

The injured include 31 foreigners, the emergency center reported.

The residential-commercial building Yunmen Cuidi, which also housed a restaurant, was severely damaged and tilted almost 45 degrees.

Two hospitals, the Meilun Hotel and another building were also leaning precariously after the tremors while cracks developed in hundreds of structures and some streets.

The areas worst affected in the quake were located close to the eastern city of Hualien although the tremors, which hit at 11.50 pm, were felt throughout the island and forced people out of their homes.

The epicenter of the earthquake was 18.3 kilometers northeast of Hualien.

Taiwan has registered hundreds of tremors of varying intensities since the weekend, including an 6.1-magnitude tremor on Sunday - unusual for Taiwan - leading to speculation about the possibility of a strong earthquake.

Taiwanese seismologists consider it possible that the island's surroundings, especially the Ryukyu trench, might receive a massive earthquake higher than magnitude 8 within a 10-year period.

Taiwan was hit by a 7.6 magnitude earthquake in 1999, which killed 2,415 people.

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