TAIPEI • A shallow 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck off Taiwan’s north-eastern coast late yesterday, causing buildings to collapse and trapping many people in the rubble, Taiwanese media reported.
Many residents fled to the streets of Hualien county in panic after buildings, including a hotel, buckled under the shock, the reports said.
Those trapped in the Marshal Hotel included “many” tourists, reported the semi-official Central News Agency.
Undergraduate Shude Shang, who was passing by the hotel, said it was tilted to “45 degrees”, reported Apple Daily. Many people in the building were waving and flashing torchlights to call for help.
Rockfall, cracked roads, blackouts and gas leaks were reported elsewhere across the island.
As of 1am today, the Central Weather Bureau had reported eight strong aftershocks following the first, which it said struck at 11.50pm at a depth of 10km, some 18km off the coast. It sent shockwaves throught the island, including the capital Taipei and the main cities of Kaohsiung and Tainan.
Premier Lai Ching-te instructed an all-out rescue effort as troops were deployed to the scene.
On Sunday, five shallow tremors struck within two hours of each other in the same area off Taiwan’s north-eastern coast. The island’s worst tremor in recent decades was a 7.6-magnitude quake in September 1999 that killed around 2,400 people.