Taiwan: Rescue efforts continue after 900 injured in earthquake

Rescue efforts have begun in Taiwan following a 7.4-magnitude earthquake that struck the island’s east coast. At least nine people were killed and more than 900 injured.

Around 127 people have been trapped in tunnels that collapsed and on roads with steep mountains along the rugged coast.

The epicenter was located 18km south of Hualien, but the tremors could be felt in Taipei’s capital, which is more than 100km from the epicentre.

This is the most powerful earthquake to strike Taiwan in 25 Years.


The tsunami warnings were also issued earlier that day for nearby islands in Japan and the Philippines, but they were later retracted. Hualien suffered the worst damage, with buildings falling, roads blocked, and train lines disrupted. The remote region was further cut off from Taiwan.

Ocean Tsai from Hualien told BBC Chinese that she was getting out of bed as a clothes rack and low cabinet fell. “It was getting stronger and I began to worry about our possessions at home.” The damage was minor, except for the motorcycle that tipped over.

Social media soon filled up with incredible footage of landslides on the coast. As they tumbled down, huge clouds erupted from the sea.

This coastline with its narrow, twisting roads and tunnels cut into the rock is where dozens of people have been trapped. Tourists flock to this route, which is famed for the spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean from the mountains. It is known for being treacherous because of the potential of landslides.

Rescue operations for 77 trapped people in the Jinwen tunnel and Qingshui on the road in Hualien continued into the night. The road outside the Qingshui Tunnel has fallen apart.

Uncertain is how long the trapped people will remain there, and if they can get food or water or communicate with outsiders.

Taipei, in the north, was also violently shaken. Footage showed collapsed residential building and people being evacuated out of their homes and from schools. Local TV broadcasted footage of stores and vehicles in chaos. On the entire island, power cuts and internet outages have been reported.

The earthquake was shallow and close to the land. The earthquake is felt in Taiwan and the offshore islands. It is the strongest earthquake for 25 years.

Hualien, the easternmost part of Taiwan’s 23 million-strong population, is mostly mountainous. Hualien is a sparsely-populated area that’s home to native tribes. The high mountains have cut the area off from the rest Taiwan for most of its history.

Since the 1930s, the government has built tunnels and roads to connect the area with the rest of the Island. It is still considered to be a difficult location to reach which will complicate the rescue efforts.

The Taroko National Park is a stunning destination for locals and tourists alike. It’s named after the Taroko Gorge, which is located just outside Hualien. This park, considered one of Asia’s natural wonders, has breathtaking routes. Three people died on the trail and 50 others are trapped. They were staff being transported to an upscale hotel ahead of a long weekend.

The earthquake that struck on Wednesday at 07:58 local (23:58 GMT), at a depth 15.5km, set off nine aftershocks of magnitude 4 or higher.

Tsai ing-wen, president of Taiwan, said that the government should ensure accuracy and timely assistance for people who are in need. This will help them feel safe and secure.

Taiwan’s Foreign Office issued a press release on X expressing gratitude for the aid offered by “allies and friend” such as Japan and Paraguay.

Taiwan’s agency that deals with China, Mainland Affairs Council (Mainland Affairs Council), also expressed gratitude to China for their concern, but stated there would be no assistance requested from this side. Beijing claims sovereignty over the self-governed Island, which views itself as separate from China.

Taiwan is no stranger to earthquakes, but both foreigners and locals who have lived in Taipei over the years claim that this was the most powerful quake in decades.

The last major earthquake, measuring 7.6 magnitude, struck in September 1999. It killed 2,400 people and destroyed 5,000 buildings.