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In Taiwan, nine people freed by rescuers

Photo: I-Hwa Cheng Agence France-Presse A man receives treatment after being rescued from the earthquake in Hualien.

France Media Agency

11:39 a.m.

  • Asia

Rescuers on Friday freed nine people trapped in a tunnel in mountainous eastern Taiwan and located two others believed to be dead. They remain searching for people still missing after the island's biggest earthquake in 25 years.

The toll from the 7.4 magnitude earthquake that occurred on Wednesday officially remains at 10 dead and more than 1,100 injured, while emergency services delivered food by helicopter to many isolated residents.

According to the national disaster agency, more than 630 people remain trapped in tunnels or isolated areas due to landslides and landslides, but have been located by rescuers, who are still searching for 13 people missing.< /p>

Local authorities announced Friday that they had found two more “lifeless” victims on a hiking trail in the mountainous region of Hualien in the east of the island, near the epicenter of the earthquake .

“Their bodies have been found, but they have not yet been extracted. We will add them to the death toll once they have been extracted and identified,” Interior Minister Lin Yu-chang said.

Rescuers deployed helicopters and drones and sent small groups on foot with dogs to reach them.

Roads repaired

On Friday, they freed nine people alive in a passage located in a gorge frequented by tourists, called the Tunnel of the Nine Towers.

“I kept praying and praying,” one woman evacuated from the cave told reporters, adding that the earthquake sounded “like a bomb.”< /p>

“There are still aftershocks and rockfalls, but in the space of about five hours today, we managed to repair 10 kilometers of road,” emphasized the Minister of the Interior.

In the city of Hualien, the most affected by the earthquake, the authorities authorized residents to enter in 15-minute rotations into a building whose facade was collapsing, to recover their belongings.

In Taiwan, nine people freed by rescuers

Photo: CNA via AFP Rescuers search Taroko National Park in Hualien following the earthquake.

“We were told the building had become unsafe and there probably wouldn't be another opportunity to take our things,” said Chen, a 24-year-old woman.

“During the big earthquake […] all I could think about was protecting my baby.” “I didn’t expect it to be this bad.”

A little further away, workers began to demolish with a crane the “Uranus” building, which tilted 45 degrees after the earthquake following the collapse of half of its first floor .

“All safe”

Rescuers left early Friday to drop boxes of food and supplies to a group of students, teachers, residents and a few tourists stranded at an inaccessible elementary school.

Some were also evacuated by helicopter from a luxury hotel, Silks Place Taroko, which had transformed its parking lot into a makeshift helicopter landing strip.

In a youth hostel, around fifty people, including a Briton and four Germans, were waiting for the roads to be cleared, according to an employee.

“We are all safe and have enough supplies. The damaged roads are being repaired,” said employee Lin, saying she hopes to leave within the day.

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said more than 80 stranded foreigners were rescued in the critical hours after the quake.

“I asked my colleagues to ensure their safety. There are constant aftershocks today, but we will always do our best,” Wu Bao-lung, head of a search and rescue team, told reporters.

In northern Taiwan, life has returned to normal, despite traces of the earthquake still visible on many buildings.

In New Taipei City, a skytrain line was under repair after a rail came loose, while alleys around Taipei, where debris was still falling, were closed.

Wednesday's earthquake was the largest to hit Taiwan since a magnitude 7.6 earthquake in 1999.

This earthquake, which caused 2,400 deaths, remains the deadliest natural disaster on the island to date.

Strict building regulations, with strengthening seismic standards in recent years, and widespread public awareness of natural disasters have helped limit the impact of the new earthquake in Taiwan.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116