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M-6.4 earthquake rocks eastern Taiwan, killing 4

Toru Makinoda/The Yomiuiri Shimbun

A building tilting to one side and supported by steel beams is seen in Hualien, Taiwan, on Wednesday morning.

Reuters HUALIEN, Taiwan (Reuters) — Rescuers combed through the rubble of collapsed buildings on Wednesday, some using their hands as they searched for about 60 people missing after a strong earthquake killed at least four near the popular Taiwanese tourist city of Hualien overnight.

The magnitude 6.4 quake, which hit near the coastal city just before midnight on Tuesday, also injured 243 people, officials said.

Hualien Mayor Fu Kun-chi said the number of people missing was now close to 60. As many as 150 were initially feared missing.

Many of the missing were believed to be still trapped inside buildings, some of which were tilting precariously, after the quake hit about 22 kilometers northeast of Hualien on Taiwan’s east coast.

Two people stranded in the Marshal Hotel were alive and had responded to rescue teams, although their location was difficult to reach, the government said.

The injured included mainland Chinese, Czech, Japanese, Singaporean and South Korean nationals.

Aftershocks with a magnitude of at least 5.0 could rock the island in the next two weeks, the government said. Smaller tremors rattled nervous residents throughout the day.

President Tsai Ing-wen went to the scene of the quake early on Wednesday to help direct rescue operations.

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