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Workers rush to stabilize and shore up damaged buildings in Taiwan after devastating earthquake

Workers rush to stabilize and shore up damaged buildings in Taiwan

Hualien, Taiwan – A powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked the mountainous county of Hualien on Wednesday morning, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. The temblor, which struck just offshore, set off massive landslides and caused several buildings to tilt at precarious angles. Emergency workers, braving aftershocks and treacherous conditions, are tirelessly engaged in rescue and recovery efforts.

In the sparsely populated region of Hualien, where the quake’s epicenter was located, the impact was particularly severe. Buildings, their structural integrity compromised, stood at alarming angles, defying gravity. Among them, the Uranus building, a nine-story structure with a basement level, suffered extensive damage. Deputy Acting Chief of Hualien Fire Department, Lee Lung-Sheng, described the dire situation within the building, stating, “The first and second floors are now underground.” The decision has been made to demolish the Uranus building within the next two days, as it has become too hazardous to salvage.

Rescue teams, working against the clock, employed an excavator to stabilize the damaged base of the Uranus building using construction materials. Amidst the chaos, officers carefully collected samples from the building’s exterior, while chickens roamed freely on the slanted roof, seemingly indifferent to the catastrophe that had unfolded.

Hualien city mayor, Hsu Chen-Wei, assured residents that all individuals living or working in buildings deemed unsafe had been evacuated. The priority now lies in ensuring the safety of those affected by the earthquake. Demolition work has commenced on four buildings, with more structures slated for assessment and potential demolition.

The scale of the disaster is staggering. Forty-eight residential buildings have been damaged, some of which now teeter precariously, their ground floors crushed. The toll on human life and well-being is heart-wrenching. As of now, nine people have lost their lives, and over 900 have been injured. In addition, 50 workers who were en route to a hotel in a national park are currently unaccounted for, adding to the sense of urgency surrounding the search and rescue operations.

The aftermath of the earthquake has been marked by ongoing aftershocks, with over 50 recorded thus far, according to weather officials. These tremors serve as a constant reminder of the fragile nature of the region’s geological landscape and the challenges faced by rescue teams as they navigate treacherous terrain.

The government of Taiwan has swiftly mobilized resources and assistance to aid in the recovery efforts. President Tsai Ing-wen expressed her condolences to the victims and their families and pledged full support in the face of this tragedy. International organizations and neighboring countries have also offered their support, showcasing the solidarity of the global community in times of crisis.

As rescue teams continue to scour the affected areas, their determination and resilience shine through, undeterred by the arduous task before them. The path to recovery will be long and arduous, but the spirit of unity and compassion displayed by the people of Hualien and those who have come to their aid will undoubtedly help them rebuild their lives and communities.