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Taiwan’s biggest earthquake in 25 years

Taiwan’s biggest earthquake in 25 years

Taiwan’s biggest earthquake in at least 25 years killed nine people on Wednesday and injured more than 900, while 50 workers travelling in minibuses to a hotel in a national park were missing.

Some buildings tilted at precarious angles in the mountainous, sparsely populated county of Hualien, near the epicentre of the 7.2 magnitude quake, which struck just offshore at about 8am and triggered huge landslides.

As darkness fell, some people were spending the night in tents and other shelters. Meanwhile scores of emergency workers were trying to shore up damaged buildings and demolish those deemed impossible to save.

“The Uranus building behind us is a very badly damaged place. It is a building with one basement level and nine floors above ground. The first and second floors are now underground,” deputy acting chief of Hualien fire department Lee Lung-Sheng said.

Hualien city mayor Hsu Chen-Wei said all residents and businesses in buildings that were in a dangerous state had been evacuated. Demolition work was beginning on four buildings, the mayor said.

More than 50 aftershocks were recorded, weather officials said.

“I’m afraid of aftershocks, and I don’t know how bad the shaking will be,” a 52-year-old Hualien resident, who gave her family name as Yu, said as she made her way to a shelter.

The power of the quake was captured live as news anchors delivered their breakfast bulletins, steadying themselves against giant screens as their sets swayed and lighting rigs rocked back and forth overhead.

The earthquake hit at a depth of 15.5km, as people were headed for work and school, setting off a tsunami warning for southern Japan and the Philippines that was later lifted.

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