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One Dead, 79 Injured In Magnitude 6.8 Earthquake

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A magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck eastern Taiwan at 2:44pm, killing one person — a worker at a cement factory in Hualien County’s Yuli Township, who was struck by falling equipment, and at least 79 persons injured.

The quake, centered in Taitung County’s Chihshang Township, also caused an apartment building and two bridges in Hualien to collapse.

It was the strongest earthquake to hit the nation so far this year and followed a magnitude 6.4 tremor late on Saturday.

Rescuers in Yuli Township yesterday saved all four people trapped under rubble at the apartment building, and others rescued three people, who were crossing the nearby Kaoliao Bridge when it collapsed, the Hualien County Government said.

The Luntien Bridge connecting Hualien’s Jhuosi and Fuli townships also collapsed.

Damage was also reported at the Yuli Bridge, impeding traffic on Highway No. 9.

Six cars of Tzuchiang Express train No. 402 derailed in Hualien’s Dongli Station after being hit by a collapsing concrete canopy.

The Taiwan Railways Administration said that 20 passengers had left the train before the derailment.

Train services were suspended between Hualien and Taitung, the agency said.

It also reported damage to railway tracks and cables along railway lines in the two east coast counties.

Nearly 400 travelers were trapped on Yuli’s Chikeshan, as a road was damaged by a landslide triggered by the earthquake, local residents said.

Cellphone reception was weak, likely due to utility poles being damaged by landslides, they said.

The quake also damaged water pipes in Yuli, where power outages affected more than 7,000 households.