Dozens Remain Missing In Taiwan After A Powerful Earthquake Pushed Buildings From Foundations

Getty Image

The past year has seen multiple 7+ magnitude earthquakes that have killed hundreds around the globe. A “weaker” quake (6.4 magnitude) took place on Tuesday near the Taiwanese county of Hualien, but due to a perfect storm of conditions, the disaster has caused breathtaking damage. As seen above, a building leaned precariously over a street after being pushed from its foundation. This has occurred throughout the area’s tourist-heavy downtown area, setting off a desperate search for survivors amid dangerous conditions. Currently, the death toll sits at six with 256 people injured and 76 still missing.

Although Hualien, which sits within the Pacific Ring of Fire, is frequently jolted by quakes, this particular rattling originated at a relatively shallow depth of around 6 miles. As a result, this quake inevitably caused more damage than a deeper one (for which seismic waves would have lost energy on their way to the surface). The Washington Post also points out that the immense stress of the waves caused soil liquefaction under the toppled buildings. Some structures caved in while others shifted, catching residents off guard:

A maintenance worker who was rescued after being trapped in the basement of the Marshal Hotel said the force of the earthquake was unusual even for a region used to temblors.

“At first it wasn’t that big … we get this sort of thing all the time and it’s really nothing. But then it got really terrifying,” the worker, Chen Ming-hui, told Taiwan’s official Central News Agency after he was reunited with his son and grandson following the quake. “It was really scary.”

CNN reports word from a rescued resident of a building where 40 people still remain missing. “I saw the first floor sink into the ground,” he said “Then it sunk and tilted further and the fourth floor became the first floor.”

These AFP and Reuters videos show close up and aerial views of the damage throughout Hualien’s tourist district.

(Via CNN, CBS News, Washington Post, AFP & Reuters)