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Taiwanese Calgarians worried about family back home after earthquake strikes island killing 9

Taiwanese Calgarians are worried for their loved ones after the island was hit with the strongest earthquake in 25 years.

The earthquake’s epicentre was registered just off the shore of Hualien County at 8 a.m. local time on Wednesday. It was registered as a 7.2 magnitude earthquake according to Taiwan’s Central Weather Administration but the U.S. Geological Survey said it was a 7.4 magnitude earthquake. More than 180 aftershocks have been registered across Taiwan by the Central Weather Administration since the quake.

Footage and images from Hualien City show buildings leaning precariously after the quake and emergency crews could be seen rescuing people from crumbling buildings. Deadly landslides were reported across Hualien County after the quake.

As of 4:22 p.m. MT on Wednesday, at least nine people were killed according to the latest numbers from the Hualien County government. At least 50 workers en route to a hotel in Taoroko National Park are missing and hundreds of tourists are still trapped in the area.

Across Taiwan, more than 900 people were injured.

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This is the largest earthquake since the 7.6-magnitude 921 Jiji earthquake in 1999, which killed more than 2,000 people and injured more than 11,000.

“It’s a very tough feeling … As a native person brought up on the east coast of Taiwan, Hualien … I experienced earthquakes (as a teenager),” said Samson Cho.

Cho is a pastor who immigrated to Canada from Taiwan in the 1970s. He was only 12 when he experienced his first big earthquake, an experience that sticks with him to this day.

He told Global News he was on the phone with family back in Taiwan when the earthquake shook their homeland.

“It was 8 a.m. (for my family) and I was talking to them. It happened so quickly … That really scared me. That brought me back to my early childhood. I talked through the night and received all kinds of communications (about the earthquake).

Cho, however, said Taiwanese people are resilient and will be able to rebuild.

“We’ve been trained to endure these difficult times. We understand. Now we just pray for them,” he said. “I pray that our communities are listening. The Taiwanese association in Calgary should be thinking about a more concrete plan to do something to help. When something happens across the world, Taiwan always takes the first step to help them … My heart is always touched by that. I should do something to help.”

Li-hsin Liu, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Vancouver, said she expects some fundraiser events to take place in the following days and months.

For now, efforts are focused on mobilizing supports to help victims. Many people are still trapped in their homes and hundreds of others have been displaced, according to the Hualien County government.

“We are working on that, to see if it will be helpful for a foreign rescue team to visit Taiwan and to work with our rescue team together,” Liu said.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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