7 February 2018

Two people have died and dozens of others are trapped in buildings after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake shook a city on the east coast of Taiwan. The worst-hit building was the Marshal Hotel in the port city of Hualien, which partly crumpled and was left slanting on its side. Rescuers on cranes attempted to free people from its upper floors.

Taiwan's premier, William Lai, held an emergency government meeting where he confirmed the two deaths - both believed to be hotel workers. More than 200 others have been injured. Four other buildings, including two hotels, also tilted during the earthquake and the government confirmed that a military hospital had been damaged. The tremor was felt shortly before midnight on Tuesday, forcing the closure of a busy road nearby. The epicentre was very shallow at just 1km.

The government said a bridge in the city on Taiwan's eastern coast could not be used, and the structure of an inn had tilted during the earthquake. Tuesday's tremor comes after a magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck nearby on Sunday. The President's office said in a statement following the second earthquake: "The President (Tsai Ing-wen) has asked the cabinet and related ministries to immediately launch the disaster mechanism and to work at the fastest rate on disaster relief work." Several buildings in Hualien were tilting or caved in, according to the Central News Agency. The agency quoted a spokesman of Taiwan's Executive Yuan, the governing cabinet's office, as saying that search teams from other areas were headed to Hualien. The preliminary information suggests the quake was about 9.5km (six miles) deep.