Death toll rises to 4 as rescuers pull survivors from collapsed buildings in deadly Taiwan earthquake

Taiwan has been struck by its most powerful earthquake in decades

In Summary
  • In Taipei, two people were rescued from a trapped elevator in Zhongshan District and seven people were rescued from the scene of a collapsed building in Xindian District in New Taipei City.
  • According to Taiwanese media outlet United Daily News (UDN), all Taiwan Railway trains bound for Hualien have been suspended due to the landslides.
A rescuer on one of the collapsed building in Taiwan after the 7.4 magnitude earthquake on April 3, 2024
A rescuer on one of the collapsed building in Taiwan after the 7.4 magnitude earthquake on April 3, 2024
Image: SCREENGRAB

Rescue work is ongoing to reach people trapped in Hualien as well as other areas in Taiwan.

According to the National Fire Agency, many people are trapped in tunnels, including the Renqing Tunnel and Qingshui Tunnel.

At least 12 people were rescued from the Uranus Building in Hualien.

In Taipei, two people were rescued from a trapped elevator in Zhongshan District and seven people were rescued from the scene of a collapsed building in Xindian District in New Taipei City.

Death toll

We've just got an update from Taiwan's fire agency´╝Ü four people are now confirmed dead, and another 57 injured.

We've also received more details about the first death we reported earlier. It occurred at the Dekalun Trail at Taroko Gorge just outside of Hualien, said Taiwanese authorities.

Local media report the person was crushed by falling rocks. The person who died was in a group of seven people, some of whom also suffered injuries.

Taiwan's fire department has said one person has died and more than 50 are injured, according to the Reuters news agency.

Separately, Taiwanese news outlet UDN is quoting the Central Disaster and Prevention Response Council as saying one person was killed by falling rocks. It is still unclear whether this is the same death reported by Reuters.

According to Taiwanese media outlets, police have rescued at least nine people from a partially collapsed building in Hualien and five people are still waiting for help.

Landslides triggered by earthquake

There's physical damage in Hualien, the two large buildings are partially collapsed.

We've also seen bridges in the mountains collapse or swept away by landslides. There is also a video of very large landslides coming down mountainsides not just into the ocean but into valleys as well.

Landslides have been a big factor because of the topography - this part of the island is a very dramatic, rugged coastline with mountains that go straight into the sea.

There is some video coming from a fishing boat off the coast - which we are trying to source and get verified - showing extraordinary pictures of the vast landslides along the coast, tumbling down the mountains and then causing huge clouds to billow up from the sea.

A rescuer on one of the collapsed building in Taiwan after the 7.4 magnitude earthquake on April 3, 2024
A rescuer on one of the collapsed building in Taiwan after the 7.4 magnitude earthquake on April 3, 2024
Image: SCREENGRAB

We will find out if there's more damage to villages and towns in the mountains. We don't know at the moment.

Where is Hualien?

Hualien is Taiwan's largest county located on the island's east coast and the region is known for its mountainous terrain.

Wednesday's earthquake off the coast of Hualien and multiple aftershocks have triggered landslides. It's caused many large rocks and boulders to come crashing down, blocking roads and railway lines and causing damage which could take weeks to repair.

According to Taiwanese media outlet United Daily News (UDN), all Taiwan Railway trains bound for Hualien have been suspended due to the landslides.

As the picture below shows, part of the road leading to the Qingshui Tunnel has collapsed. The tunnel is important to the region, as it cuts through the Qingshui Cliff on the coast of Hualien.

The collapsed part of the road leading to the Qingshui Tunnel
The collapsed part of the road leading to the Qingshui Tunnel
Image: SCREENGRAB
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