Taiwan quake: 2 Singaporeans among 31 foreigners affected

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Six killed and 243 injured after magnitude 6.4 tremor hit Hualien county

Two Singaporeans were among 31 foreigners affected by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake that struck Taiwan's Hualien county.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said yesterday there were no reports of Singaporeans injured, and that the Singapore Trade Office is in close contact with the local authorities.

The quake, which struck just before midnight on Tuesday, killed at least six people, injured 243 and left dozens missing. Four buildings collapsed, officials said.

According to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), apart from the two Singaporeans, there were 14 South Koreans, nine Japanese, two Czechs and one Filipino among the 31 foreigners affected.

The nationalities of the three others have yet to be confirmed, the MOFA said in a statement.

Taiwan's Central News Agency reported yesterday that the two Singaporeans and 13 South Koreans were in a temporary shelter at a Hualien stadium. Of this group, one Korean suffered minor injuries.

The other 16 foreign nationals received treatment for injuries - ranging from wrist and foot injuries to dry powder inhalation - at four different hospitals in the Hualien area and were later discharged or will soon be discharged, according to the MOFA statement.

MFA has reached out to eRegistered Singaporeans and ascertained that all eRegistered Singaporeans in Hualien are safe.

The MFA said the Singapore Trade Office was in close contact with local authorities and would monitor the situation to render necessary assistance to affected Singaporeans.

"The Singapore Government is saddened to learn of the loss of lives and damage caused by the earthquake... ," the MFA said.

Rescuers combed the rubble of collapsed buildings yesterday, in search of the dozens of people still missing.

Emergency workers surrounded a badly damaged 12-storey residential building, a major focus of the rescue effort. Windows had collapsed and the building was wedged into the ground at a roughly 40-degree angle.

"We were still open when it happened," said Mr Lin Ching-wen, who operates a restaurant near a damaged military hospital. "I grabbed my wife and children and we ran out and tried to rescue people," he said.

Hualien is home to about 100,000 people. Its streets were buckled by the force of the quake, with around 40,000 homes left without water and around 1,900 without power. Water supply had returned to 5,000 homes by noon Singapore time, while power was restored to around 1,700 households. - THE STRAITS TIMES, REUTERS