6.4-magnitude earthquake strikes Taiwan: At least 2 dead, 200 injured

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A magnitude-6.4 earthquake struck near the coast of Taiwan, killing at least two and injuring hundreds more. (KABC)

A magnitude-6.4 earthquake struck near the coast of Taiwan, killing at least two people and injuring more than 200 others, officials said.

Rescuers worked to free at least five people trapped in damaged buildings and to reach another 170 unaccounted for after the quake hit the eastern coast.

The quake struck late Tuesday 13.3 miles northeast of Hualien on the island's east coast, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Taiwan's national fire agency said at least four buildings have collapsed in Hualien, Taiwan, where the earthquake was strongest.

Taiwan's Central News Agency reported that the ground floor of the Marshal Hotel, a building in Hualien district, had caved in, causing the death of one employee. Another person died in a residential building, the national fire and rescue service reported.

Other buildings were shifted on foundations and rescuers used ladders, ropes and cranes to get residents to safety.

Several buildings in Hualien were tilting or caved in, according to the Central News Agency. Taiwanese media reported that a separate hotel known as the Beautiful Life Hotel was tilting.

The agency also posted photos showing a road fractured in several parts. Bridges and some highways were closed pending inspections after buckling due to the force of the quake.

The agency quoted a spokesman of Taiwan's Executive Yuan, the governing cabinet's office, as saying that search teams from other areas were headed to Hualien.
The earthquake followed one over the weekend off the coast of Hualien, which lies along the famed "Pacific Rim of Fire" known for seismic activity from Alaska to Southeast Asia.

The preliminary data suggests the quake was about 6 miles deep.

The quake came exactly two years after a magnitude-6.4 quake struck southern Taiwan, causing the collapse of an apartment complex and the deaths of 115 people. Five people involved in the construction of the complex were later found guilty of negligence and given prison sentences.

In 1999, a magnitude-7.6 earthquake in central Taiwan killed more than 2,300 people.

Earthquakes rattle Taiwan frequently. Most are minor and cause little or no damage.

A Southern California-based nonprofit organization is helping to collect funds and provide relief to victims of the Taiwan earthquake.

Tzu Chi, an international organization with U.S. headquarters in San Dimas, has been providing meals and shelter to those affected by the quake.

Contributions can be made through the group's website here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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