15 Dead in Taiwan Quakes; Missing Sought in Rubble

From Times Wire Services

Rescue teams working under the glare of spotlights dug through the rubble of a collapsed building Saturday night, trying to find survivors of two powerful earthquakes that jolted Taiwan, killing at least 15 people.

Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau said the first quake, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, struck at 5:20 a.m. Saturday (1:20 p.m. PST Friday) and lasted less than two minutes, cracking walls and rocking tall buildings, shattering windows and sending broken glass cascading into deserted streets.

The second tremor, measuring 6.3, hit at 7:04 a.m. Meteorologists reported 160 aftershocks.

Bureau officials said that the quakes were felt throughout Taiwan but that Chungho, a suburb of Taipei, and Hualien, a resort city 180 miles southeast of the capital, were hardest hit. The epicenters of both quakes were at sea, several miles from Hualien, the bureau said.

Search for Survivors

In Chungho, hundreds of rescue workers were searching Saturday night for survivors after a three-story building collapsed. Police said that, of the 92 people who lived or worked in the building, 34 were unaccounted for and 33 were injured. Fourteen bodies had been recovered, and 11 people escaped unharmed.

In Hualien, the quakes set off rock slides, killing one person and injuring six people.

In the coastal city of Ilan, 95 miles southeast of Taipei, a 61-year-old fisherman was reported missing after his boat capsized.

The quakes collapsed two homes in Taipei and Ilan and damaged 24 houses in Ilan, police said.

In downtown Taipei, a 14-story office building was jarred loose from its foundation and left tilting at a 15-degree angle.

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