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Several feared trapped after Taiwan quake

09 February 2018

The search and rescue operations were halted at one time Wednesday evening as the building kept tilting, posing a threat to both the rescuers and the people that might be trapped in it. The tremors were felt all along Taiwan but Hualien was worst hit by the quake. Firefighters climbed ladders hoisted against windows to reach people inside apartments.

Taiwan's central government on Thursday declined disaster relief aid from China and other countries, with the exception of Japan, in the wake of a magnitude 6.0 quake which struck Hualien County in eastern Taiwan late Tuesday, causing loss of life and serious property damage.

"That fear is still there", Chen Chu-rong, 52, told The AP. "It was really scary".

Taiwan's National Fire Agency says another hotel worker, surnamed Zhou, was also freed from the rubble Wednesday but did not show any vital signs.

Other buildings shifted on their foundations and rescuers used ladders, ropes and cranes to get residents to safety.

The temblor, which affected the east coast of the island, killed at least 10 people and injured more than 270 others. CNA reported that seven had been killed.

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Local broadcaster SET TV ran an interview with a man who said he was the husband of one of the mainland Chinese victims.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen viewed the search effort. "It is believed that a number of people will have died", McBride said. "The government will work with everyone to guard their homeland". Taiwan's Central New Agency reported that they were all guests at the Beauty Inn.

Rescuers said five other mainland tourists are still trapped in the building, four adults and one child. He said China "is willing to send a rescue team to Taiwan" to help with relief efforts, adding that he is aware of a shortage of rescue workers in the disaster area.

The agency also posted photos showing a road fractured in several parts.

Bridges and some highways were closed pending inspections.

Strong aftershocks continued to strike sending rescue teams scurrying from the building, only for them to return a little while later and resume their grim task.

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Speaking from a crisis center in Taipei, Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung said rail links appeared to be unaffected and the runway of Hualien airport was intact.

The Hualien quake came exactly two years to the day after a similar sized tremor struck the western city of Tainan, killing 117 people.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck just before midnight Tuesday about 21 kilometers (13 miles) northeast of Hualien at a relatively shallow depth of about 10.6 kilometers (6.6 miles).

Taiwanese rescuers on Thursday braved aftershocks coursing through a dangerously leaning apartment block that was partially toppled by a deadly quake as their search for survivors uncovered two more bodies. Five people involved in the construction of the complex were found guilty of negligence and given prison sentences.

The country suffered a strong 7.6-magnitude tremor in 1999, which killed at least 2,415 people.

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Several feared trapped after Taiwan quake