At least one person has died after a strong earthquake rocked much of Taiwan, toppling a three-story building and temporarily trapping four people inside, leaving around 400 tourists stranded on a mountain and derailing a part of a train.
The magnitude 6.9 quake was the largest of more than 75 to rock the island’s southeast coast between Saturday night, when a magnitude 6.4 quake hit the same area, and Sunday afternoon.
Most of the damage appeared to be north of the epicenter of Chishang City in northern Taitung County at a relatively shallow depth of 6 km.
Taiwan state media, the Central News Agency, said a man surnamed Huang died at a factory in Hualien when a piece of machinery fell on him.
A three-story building, which had a 7-Eleven convenience store on the ground floor and residences on the upper floors, collapsed in the nearby town of Yuli in Hualien, CNA said. The 70-year-old building owner and his wife were rescued first, but it took longer to reach a 39-year-old woman and her five-year-old daughter.
A photo released by the Hualien city government showed the girl lying on a blanket and being handed a metal ladder from the top of the debris by rescue workers in orange uniforms.
The top two floors of the building were left strewn across a small street, with electrical wires pulled through the collapsed structure.
More than 7,000 households are reported to be without electricity in Yuli and water pipes have been damaged.
Police and firefighters rushed to a bridge collapse on a two-lane road in what appeared to be a rural part of town, where three people and one or more vehicles may have fallen, media said.
Also in Yuli, a landslide trapped nearly 400 tourists on a mountain known for the orange day lilies that cover its slopes at this time of year, the ANC said. They had no electricity and weak cell phone signal.
Debris from a canopy falling onto a platform at Dongli Station in Fuli – between Yuli and the epicenter of Chishang – hit a passing train, derailing six carriages, state media reported, citing railway administration. None of the 20 passengers was injured.
Taiwanese residents shared images of the earthquake’s impact on social media.
Video showed a couple trapped on a bridge in a rural area, with the raised causeway in front and behind them having collapsed. CCTV footage also showed the moment a roof collapsed on an indoor badminton court, forcing players to take cover.
The two largest earthquakes – Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon – as well as several aftershocks, were felt on the northern end of the island in the capital, Taipei. In the city of Taoyuan, west of Taipei and 210 km north of the epicenter, a man was injured when a ceiling collapsed on the fifth floor of a sports center.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen urged people to be vigilant for further aftershocks, but said the government was “controlling the situation”.
Earthquakes are common in Taiwan, due to its proximity to the edges of the Eurasian and Philippine tectonic plates.
The most disastrous earthquake in recent history occurred in 1999, when more than 2,400 people were killed and 11,000 injured by a magnitude 7.3 earthquake in Nantou County.
The US Geological Survey initially gave a higher reading of Sunday’s quake than local authorities, initially measuring it at magnitude 7.2 before downgrading it to 6.9.
The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami advisory for several southern Japanese islands near Taiwan, but later withdrew it.