(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –A 6.4-magnitude quake on the east coast of Taiwan has left two dead and 219 injured, the government said, after buildings crumbled and trapped people inside.
About 150 people are missing, according to the government, with many believed to be still trapped inside buildings.
A hotel and a residential block were the worst hit by the quake in the port city of Hualien, said the national fire agency.
Five more buildings including a hospital had also been damaged, the agency added, with televison footage showing roads strewn with rubble, cracks along highways and damaged buildings tilted at angles.
Hualien, an area popular with tourists, is home to about 100,000 people. Its streets were buckled by the force of the quake, with around 40,000 homes left without water and more than 600 without power.
The worst-hit Marshal Hotel partly crumpled into the ground, leaving it slanting on its side, as rescuers on cranes attempted to free people from its upper floors.
The government said two bridges in the city were either cracked or could not be used due to the quake.
“It’s the biggest quake I’ve experienced in Hualien in more than 10 years,” resident Blue Hsu told AFP, who said his home shook violently.
Describing the scene at the Marshal Hotel, Hsu said the bottom storeys had been crushed.
“The lower floors sunk into the ground and I saw panicked tourists being rescued from the hotel. There is one bulldozer and about 50 rescuers on the scene,” he said.
Hualien is one of Taiwan’s most popular tourist hubs as it lies on the picturesque east coast rail line and is near to popular Taroko Gorge.
Facebook user Sun Chen-hsiang, who was livestreaming the scene at the hotel from a distance, told how the building next to his home had collapsed.
“All the people watching this livestream, please get yourself to a safe place and don’t stay home,” he said.