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Photo Credit: Chiang Ying-ying/AP

Taiwan’s strongest earthquake in 25 years leaves 10 killed, over 1000 injured

At least 10 people were killed, and 1,067 people were injured in the aftermath of a 7.4-magnitude earthquake Taiwan’s northern Hualien County on Wednesday, according to Taiwan’s National Fire Agency (NFA). This is the strongest earthquake to hit the region in 25 years. Rescue efforts have been in full effect since early Wednesday morning. Taiwan’s NFA says more than 600 people are still stranded and 42 are unaccounted for. The epicenter, Hualien County, is home to around 300,000 of the 23 million people who live in Taiwan.

The earthquake was followed by strong aftershocks, including a 6.4-magnitude tremor. Multiple aftershocks as strong as magnitude 7 are expected in the coming days. More than 200 people are in shelters across Hualien County, with approximately 10,000 households without water, and over 300 households without electricity. Many people are trapped in mines and underground tunnels. Taiwan’s NFA says that the trapped individuals are in contact with rescuers.

As of Thursday afternoon, more than 40 tremors of magnitude 4 or higher have struck near the island’s east coast, including one of 6.4-magnitude, according to data from the US Geological Survey. Residents of Hualien County face a massive clean-up effort, with those near the epicenter facing the most damage. Deng Huimei, 63, was putting away groceries when the earthquake struck. “I had put everything in the fridge, and then the earth started shaking violently. At first, it was up and down, but later it was shaking very violently in the north-south direction. I had to hold onto things to stay steady, otherwise, I would have been knocked down by the shaking. So I was very scared,” he told CNN.

Quarry workers faced intense conditions. “There were too many rocks, like bullets falling from above. We didn’t know where to run. We were all scared,” a worker who was rescued from Zhonghe open-air mine told CNN affiliate SET News. Unfortunately, one worker was killed by the rockfall.

Taiwan has not seen an earthquake of this magnitude since 1999, when a 7.7 magnitude quake hit south of the capital Taipei, killing 2,400 people and injuring 10,000 others.

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