Taiwan earthquake kills 4, leaves 145 unaccounted for in Hualien

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By Associated Press

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Rescuers combed through the rubble of collapsed buildings on Wednesday, as they searched for dozens of people missing after a strong earthquake hit near Taiwan's east coast.

Video footage and photos showed buildings leaning at sharp angles, their lowest floors crushed into mangled heaps of concrete, shattered glass, bent iron beams and other debris. Firefighters could be seen climbing ladders hoisted against windows as they sought to reach residents inside apartments.

Six people were killed in Tuesday night's quake in Hualien county, while 256 others were injured and 88 left unaccounted for, according to the National Fire Agency.

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Taiwan's official Central News Agency reported that 16 foreigners were among the injured.

The force of the tremor buckled roads and disrupted electricity and water supplies to thousands of households, authorities said.

Bridges and some highways were closed pending inspections.

Rescue officials use metal beams to reinforce a damaged building in Hualien, Taiwan, on Wednesday.Richie B. Tongo / EPA

With aftershocks continuing through the night, residents were being directed to shelters, including a newly built baseball stadium, where beds and hot food were provided.

Taiwan has frequent earthquakes due to its position along the "Ring of Fire," the seismic faults encircling the Pacific Ocean where most of the world's earthquakes occur.

A magnitude 7.6 quake in central Taiwan killed more than 2,300 people in 1999.

Reuters contributed.