An earthquake of 6.4 in magnitude hit downtown Hualien City late Tuesday night. Two buildings collapsed; one has been completed with rescue mission and deconstruction process is underway. Hualien Disaster Crisis Response Center has announced that there are 4 collapsed buildings, 17 deaths, 279 injured, and 751 displaced.
Rescuers are at the Yun Tsui building making their last effort to rescue the missing family of 5 Chinese tourists of 3 generations in the boutique hotel on the second floor of the building. Two Canadian Hong Kong tourists’ bodies had been found, in each others’ arms.
The Armed Forces and rescue teams from other Taiwanese counties are stationed here taking shifts for the rescue mission. In addition, Japan dispatched its rescue team and rescue dogs as they did for the 2016 Tainan Earthquake. There are a total of 378 rescuers and 13 rescue dogs.
In the final hours of the golden 72-hour timeframe, this will be their last rescue effort as the central government may call off the mission at any time. Once the government calls off the mission, the supporting steels frames will come off and the buildings will be allowed to collapse.
Tzu Chi Foundation, which has been an expert in disaster relief, as they dispatched teams to 2010 Haiti and 2015 Nepal Earthquakes. Their disaster relief effort includes food and water, shelter, and post-traumatic counseling by the trained volunteers.
Tzu Chi Foundation’s international disaster relief efforts had been criticized by some, saying that the organization would rather spend money on others rather than Taiwanese people.
Responding to the crisis in its own backyard, Tzu Chi Foundation immediately declared its Memorial Hall a crisis response center as well as shelter for the displaced. Tzu Chi Hospital has also admitted 131 injured as of 10 pm Friday night.
This is the third night for the displaced citizens; Hualien Arena shelters 470 people and Chung Hua Elementary School shelters 280. World Vision Taiwan and Red Cross have been coordinating post-traumatic counseling for the adults, as well as storytelling times for the children to distract them from the trauma.
Many Hualien local hotels and restaurants provide free food and shelter. Food sent by the restaurant owners to the rescue site, as well as the two shelters, have warmed the hearts of not only the displaced but everyone.
This is a true testament of how the central government, non-profits, and volunteers doing their best to carry out the disaster relief mission. All Hualien citizens have come together, united, to go through rough times.
(All featured images by Chu Yi)