A 6.4 magnitude earthquake centered in Kaohsiung County awoke residents a few minutes before 4AM this morning February 6, 2016. Three people have died and 160 hospitalized at the time of writing, with the number expected to rise as rescue workers penetrate collapsed buildings. Authorities are still working to assess the extent of the damage as the President heads to Tainan, which appears to have taken the brunt of the damage.
Several residential buildings housing hundreds of families have collapsed. The earthquake comes at a time when many families have already gathered for Chinese New Year celebrations which begin with new years eve tomorrow. While the island is frequently rocked by tremors, this is the most destructive quake to have occurred since the 921 earthquake (Semptember 21, 1999).
Update: 11:55AM: A large building on Yongda Road, Tainan City continues to tilt and is too unstable for rescue operations to continue. Rescue workers have suspended operations on the east side of the building and are concentrating efforts on the west side.
Update: 1:35PM: Operation of the High Speed Rail (HSR) has been suspended south of Taichung due to extensive damage. It is not known when the system will resume operations. Building inspectors have found that some of the collapsed buildings have been constructed with substandard materials. Supporting pillars in one building were found to have been filled with empty oil tins to save on construction costs. Similar findings were made after the earthquake of 21 September, 1999.
Update: 2.42PM: Residents living in the building in the following video managed to all evacuate without loss of life or serious casualties. In other areas, residents await rescue from collapsed buildings. Some of them have made contact with rescue teams using cellphones. Finding them continues to be a challenge. A sixteen year old girl made contact with the operations center at around 10AM this morning and reported that she was trapped under a collapsed wall and unable to move in a household with 4 other people on the twelfth floor of a building. As rescuers tried to locate her, it was agreed that she should make contact every 30 minutes in order to conserve her phone’s battery.
Check for frequent updates throughout the day.