Strong Taiwan earthquake traps people, derails train
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A strong earthquake shook much of Taiwan on Sunday, toppling a three-story building and temporarily trapping four people inside, stranding about 400 tourists on a mountainside, and knocking part of a passenger train off its tracks.
The magnitude 6.8 quake was the largest among dozens that have rattled the island’s southeastern coast since Saturday evening, when a 6.4 quake struck the same area. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries.
Most of the damage appeared to be north of the epicenter, which Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau said was in the town of Chishang at the relatively shallow depth of 7 kilometers (4 miles).
The three-story building, which had a 7-11 convenience store on the ground floor and residences on the upper ones, collapsed in nearby Yuli town, the island’s Central News Agency said.
The 70-year-old owner of the building and his wife were rescued first, but it took longer to get to a 39-year-old woman and her 5-year-old daughter.
A photo released by the Hualien city government showed the girl lying on a blanket and being handed down a metal ladder from the top of the debris by helmeted rescue workers in orange uniforms.
The top two stories of the building were left sprawled across a small street and onto the other side, with electricity wires pulled down by the fallen structure.
More than 7,000 households were reported without power in Yuli, and water pipes were also damaged. Shelves and musical instruments fell over at the Mount Carmel Presbyterian Church and a long crack ran down its floor. Outside, the pavement was broken into slabs of concrete.
Police and firefighters rushed to a bridge collapse on a two-lane road in what appeared to be a rural part of the same town where three people and one or more vehicles may have fallen off, according to media reports.
Also in Yuli, a landslide trapped nearly 400 tourists on a mountain famous for the orange day lilies that blanket its slopes this time of year, the Central News Agency said. They had no electricity and a weak cellphone signal.
Debris from a falling canopy on a platform at Dongli station in Fuli town, which is between Yuli and the epicenter at Chishang, hit a passing train, derailing six cars, the Central News Agency said, citing the railway administration. None of the 20 passengers were injured.
The shaking was felt at the north end of the island in the capital, Taipei. In Taoyuan city, west of Taipei and 210 kilometers (130 miles) north of the epicenter, a man was injured by a ceiling collapse on the 5th floor of a sports center.
The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami advisory for several southern Japanese islands near Taiwan, but later lifted it.
Moritsugu reported from Beijing. Associated Press writer Huizhong Wu in Taipei, Taiwan, contributed to this report.