Two killed, 219 injured in Taiwan quake

Officials put the toll at nine dead ranging in age from 37 to 66 and at least 63 others missing

A powerful natural disaster has killed at least 10 in Taiwan's Hualien County, leaving 272 injured and seven still missing.

At least six people were killed and 76 missing following a strong quake near Taiwan's east coast that caused several buildings to cave in and tilt dangerously.

Four tourists from the mainland had been confirmed dead as of Thursday morning after a magnitude-6.5 natural disaster hit Taiwan's Hualien County. As many as 150 were initially feared missing.

The Yunmen Tsuiti building was one of several damaged by late Tuesday's magnitude 6.4 quake.

At the city's Marshal Hotel, rescuers trying to free two trapped Taiwanese pulled one out alive, but the other person was declared dead, the government said. In total, 31 foreigners were affected, including 14 South Koreans, two Czechs, two Singaporeans and one Filipino, CNA reported.

At least one bridge, badly damaged by the quake, has been partially reopened by police to traffic, the CNA said.

"We've never had anything like this; we've never had a building topple over. Also, it was constantly shaking, so everyone was really scared, we ran to empty open spaces to avoid it".

Nervous residents have since endured more than 200 aftershocks, including a 5.7 quake on Wednesday and smaller tremors early today.

Residents waited and watched anxiously as emergency workers in fluorescent orange and red suits and wearing helmets searched for residents trapped in apartment blocks.

Hualien, a popular tourist hub, is home to about 100,000 people.

Sixty-two people remain missing, likely trapped under the rubble of the residential-commercial Yunmen Cuidi building, which was tilting at an angle of nearly 45 degrees, and the Meliun Hotel. "I saw the first floor sink into the ground", said 35-year-old Lu Chih-son.

Other buildings shifted on their foundations and rescuers used ladders, ropes and cranes to get residents to safety.

Photos on state media showed the narrow highway in and out of the gorge on Wednesday morning covered in rocks, rubble and other debris from the natural disaster.

Local media and observers said Taipei's decision to allow the Japanese team to assist in the rescue operation but reject Beijing's offer was understandable at a time when cross-strait ties had deteriorated.

At the Yunmen Tsuiti building, clothes and other personal items were visible on the balconies as the rescue work continued.

President Tsai Ing-wen reassured the public every effort would be made to rescue survivors.

Taiwan has frequent earthquakes due to its position along the "Ring of Fire", the seismic faults encircling the Pacific Ocean where most of the world's earthquakes occur. In fact, hit roughly the same region just northeast of the island on Sunday, and magnitude 4.5 or higher have shaken the city since Tuesday's quake.

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