Two dead, 21 hurt as earthquake rocks central Taiwan

Powerful tremor shakes central towns and cities, sending terrified residents running into streets

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 June, 2013, 3:36pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 June, 2013, 5:06am

A powerful earthquake rocked central Taiwan yesterday, killing two people, injuring 21 and sending panicked residents rushing into the streets. One person was unaccounted for, officials said.

The 6.3-magnitude quake struck at 1.43pm at a depth of just 10 kilometres. It was the island's strongest this year and was felt in Hong Kong and some parts of the southern coast of the mainland, Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau said. The US Geological Survey put its strength at 6.2.

"The quake was located 30 kilometres east of Nantou county, and because of its relatively shallow depth, it could be felt all over Taiwan, including Taipei," a bureau spokeswoman said.

Shocked people, including many in restaurants in the central city of Taichung, were seen on local TV reports rushing out into the streets. Cameras also captured footage of products in convenience stores and supermarkets being shaken off shelves.

Tourists riding a cable car near scenic Sun Moon Lake in Nantou told local TV they had felt like they were riding a roller coaster when suddenly the gondola shook violently. "Oh my god, it was so scary," one woman told the ETTV cable news network.

The National Fire Agency said a male tourist was killed by falling rocks in Alishan, a mountainous scenic spot in the southern county of Chiayi. He was with a group of seven other tourists when the rocks rained down, it said. Another man was killed by a rock while working at a farm in Chushan, near the epicentre.

A woman driving a car in Alishan was critically injured when rocks hit her car, agency officials said, adding that 20 other people were injured to various degrees, mostly by falling rocks.

Agency officials said four helicopters were sent to scout the area around the epicentre, amid local reports that more than 100 tourists were trapped in a mountain resort in Chushan, Nantou.

Nantou was the epicentre of a 7.6-magnitude quake in September 1999, that killed 2,400.