At least 7 dead after Taiwan's quake

"Two people were unfortunately killed, and 114 have suffered light or severe injuries", Taiwan's Premier William Lai told an emergency government meeting.

It had been just about 24 hours since a magnitude 6.4 natural disaster rattled Taiwan's east coast, crumbling walls and knocking tall buildings askew, when rescue workers felt another big rumble late Wednesday.

"At first it wasn't that big ... we get this sort of thing all the time and it's really nothing".

While earthquakes are common in the area, the geology makes it rare to have many quakes in short succession, Chen said.

"Since the aftershocks are frequent, we urge all our remain vigilant and always pay attention to the correct message from the government", President Tsai said in a Facebook post. Currently, there are 37 people believed to be trapped inside the residential apartment section of the partially collapsed Yun Men Tsui Ti building (雲門翠堤大樓), which is leaning precariously by 30 degrees.

The lower basement and ground floor of the 10-storey Marshal Hotel gave way after the quake.

The earthquake's epicenter was located approximately 22 kilometers northeast of Hualien, a notable tourist city. "This is when the Taiwanese people show their calmness, resilience and love". Aftershocks with a magnitude of at least 5.0 could rock the island over the next two weeks, the government said.

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Media also report that a hotel and buildings which suffered extensive damage were not structurally capable of resisting earthquakes.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday visited Hualien City to inspect affected sites and instructed all rescue workers to concentrate their efforts on identifying victims who might still be trapped in the rubble.

Speaking from a crisis centre in Taipei, cabinet spokesperson Hsu Kuo-yung said rail links appeared to be unaffected and the runway of Hualien airport was intact.

The quake was centered in the East China Sea about 21 kilometers (13 miles) north of the city of Hualien.

Schools and offices in Hualien County were to be closed Wednesday. Five people involved in the construction of the complex were later found guilty of negligence and given prison sentences.

The quake happened on the second anniversary of a 6.4-magnitude tremor that killed 117 people.

Bodeen reported from Beijing.

  • Sonia Alvarado