By Hler Gudjonsson, IFRC
A 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Tainan City in Kaohsiung province in the south of Taiwan this morning at 3:57 AM. The quake was very shallow at a depth of 10 km and caused damage to buildings in parts of Yunlin county, Kaohsiung city, Pingtung, Tainan city and Chiayi. A number of buildings in Tainan city in Kaohsiung province collapsed, including nine multi-storey buildings. Five people are known to have died and almost 400 people have suffered injuries following the earthquake.
The Taiwan Red Cross Organisation has dispatched rescue and relief teams to support the efforts of the government and military in Tainan city. The teams are providing much needed relief to affected people who have been evacuated to emergency shelters. Volunteers and staff have been preparing hot meals for hundreds of people who are staying in the shelters and they have also distributed blankets, sleeping bags and warm jackets. More relief supplies are being transported to the affected areas.
Over 50 Red Cross staff and volunteers are currently working in the disaster area and more volunteers will be deployed during the course of the day. Their headquarters staff including the President of the Taiwan Red Cross Organisation is also in the affected area overseeing the response.
The city government has established a level one emergency response centre and firefighters and emergency services crews are leading the search and rescue efforts. They are supported by Red Cross emergency teams who have deployed with specialist rescue equipment including electric drills, hammers and cutting equipment. Over one hundred people are thought to be trapped in the collapsed buildings. Aftershocks continue to be felt in the area and electricity supply to more than 120,000 households has been disrupted.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is monitoring the situation closely and is communicating closely with the Taiwan Red Cross Organisation. The Red Cross Society of China has donated two million Yuan (300,000 Swiss Francs) in support of the relief efforts of the Taiwan Red Cross Organisation.