Rescuers combed through the rubble of collapsed buildings on Wednesday, some using their hands as they searched for about 60 people missing after a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck near the popular Taiwanese tourist city of Hualien overnight.
At least four people were killed and 243 injured in the quake that hit near the coastal city just before midnight (1600 GMT) on Tuesday, officials said.
Hualien mayor Fu Kun-chi said the number of people missing was now close to 60. As many as 150 were initially feared missing, Reuters news agency reports.
Many of those were believed to be still trapped inside buildings, including a military hospital, after the quake hit about 22 km (14 miles) northeast of Hualien on Taiwan’s east coast.
Aftershocks with a magnitude of at least 5.0 could rock the island in the next two weeks, the government said. Japanese, Czech and mainland Chinese nationals were among the injured.
Residents waited and watched anxiously as emergency workers dressed in fluorescent orange and red suits and wearing helmets searched for residents trapped in apartment blocks.
Hualien is home to about 100,000 people. Its streets were buckled by the force of the quake, with around 40,000 homes left without water and around 1,900 without power.
Rescuers worked their way around and through the building while residents looked on from behind cordoned-off roads.
Bridges and some highways were closed pending inspections, according to a AP report.
With aftershocks continuing through the night, residents were being directed to shelters, including a newly built baseball stadium, where beds and hot food were provided.
President Tsai Ing-wen went to the scene of the quake early on Wednesday to help direct rescue operations.
“The president has asked the cabinet and related ministries to immediately launch the ‘disaster mechanism’ and to work at the fastest rate on disaster relief work,” Tsai’s office said in a statement.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world’s largest contract chipmaker and major Apple supplier, said initial assessments indicated no impact from the earthquake.
Taiwan, a self-ruled island that China considers part of its territory, lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is prone to earthquakes. An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 struck nearby on Sunday.