Taiwan earthquake death tolls rise after buildings collapse

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A powerful earthquake rocked Taiwan early Saturday morning, injuring hundreds and killing at least 14, BBC reports.

According to Taiwan's Central News Agency, the magnitude 6.4 earthquake hit the city of Tainan at approximately 4 am. The force of the tremor caused 17-story apartment complex Weiguan Jinlong to collapse, trapping hundreds of residents beneath the rubble.

According to NPR correspondent Elise Hu, who was on assignment in Taipei when the quake struck,

This was strong enough to not only be felt here in the [Taiwanese] capital city of Taipei, but also in the southern providence of China.

At least five aftershocks of varying magnitudes were recorded.

Emergency workers have been able to rescue more than 240 people in Tainan so far. Twelve victims, including a 10-day-old baby girl, were killed in the Weiguan Jinlong collapse, while at least two more were killed elsewhere in the city.

The earthquake, which officials say is the strongest to hit the island nation in “quite a while,” also caused extensive damage to at least seven other buildings in Tainan. Authorities plan to investigate the collapses, as most structures in Taiwan are built to withstand high-magnitude quakes.

Current estimates put the number injured at approximately 475, though this figure — along with the death toll — is expected to rise as rescue efforts continue. At least 30 are still believed to be stuck beneath the collapsed apartment complex, while another 100 remain unaccounted for.

More than 1,500 volunteers are working to help victims of the quake, and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has promised a nationwide “all-out effort” to locate and rescue additional victims.

Citations: 11 dead after magnitude-6.4 earthquake shocks Taiwan (CNN), Taiwan earthquake: Rescuers in frantic search for missing (BBC), At least 13 dead, hundreds injured in powerful Taiwan earthquake (Mashable)