4 people rescued from collapsed building after destructive earthquake strikes eastern Taiwan

Firefighters in Hualien County successfully located and extracted four injured people after a building collapsed when a 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck the area today, Sunday, September 18.

Hualien County Fire Department sent a search and rescue team to the scene of the disaster in Yuli township after receiving reports that a three-storey mixed commercial and residential building collapsed after the earthquake struck at 2:44 pm.

Staff and customers of a 7-11 convenience store on the first floor had all evacuated the building. However, four residents of apartments on the second and third floors did not have time to leave before the building collapsed.

At 3:48 pm, firefighters extracted a 70-year-old man, named Chen. Chen had been laying in bed when the ceiling collapsed, stopping just 30 centimeters above him, trapping him by the legs, and leaving him immobile.

A 64-year-old woman, named Deng, was taken out of the same apartment on a stretcher at 4:27 pm. Deng was found laying on a sofa, also unable to move in the cramped space that remained after the collapse.

A distraught resident who had been out when the earthquake struck, but whose wife and daughter were trapped in their third-floor apartment spoke to his wife by phone as firefighters penetrated the building through broken windows. The man’s wife said that her legs were clamped, and she was unable to move.

At times, the search and rescue team had to evacuate the building as aftershocks struck.

At 5:37 pm, firefighters brought out a five-year-old girl, and around 10 minutes later, the girl’s 39-year-old mother was also rescued.

According to reports, none of the four people rescued were seriously injured.

Today’s 6.8 magnitude quake centered in Chishang Township, Taidong County, follows a 6.4 magnitude quake that struck the same area at 9:21 pm yesterday. More than 70 aftershocks have rattled Taiwan, some felt around the island and as far away as coastal provinces of China and the southernmost islands of Japan since the first earthquake yesterday.

According to Taiwan’s Central Disaster Response Center, one death, and 79 injuries have been reported.

Picture of building before it collapsed.
Picture of building before it collapsed. Taken from Google Maps.
Picture of building after it collapsed when a 6.8 magnitude struck in nearby Chishang Township, Taiwan, September 18, 2022.

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