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4 Dead in Taiwan Earthquake - 2002-03-31


Taiwan has been rocked by an earthquake that has killed at least four people and leveled several buildings across the island. Scores of people were injured, and officials fear the death toll will rise as emergency workers sift through the rubble of buildings damaged by the quake.

The Earthquake hit Taiwan early Sunday afternoon. Measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, it shook buildings across the island, flattening some of them and wreaking general havoc in cities.

In the capital, Taipei, buildings rocked back and forth and walls cracked. One four-story building partially collapsed. The city's vice mayor said that rescuers were trying to save several people trapped in the rubble.

There were fatalities and injuries at a construction site in the capital. Two cranes crashed down 60 stories from the top of a new financial center.

Scaffolding fell from another building under construction in the east of the city. Taipei's subway system was shut down because of safety concerns.

The quake's epicenter was in the ocean 10 kilometers off the eastern city of Hualien, a lightly populated area.

It was felt as far away as Hong Kong, 900 kilometers to the southwest. There have been nearly 100 aftershocks so far and there are concerns about a possible tsunami.

Taiwan sits on a seismic faultline and is frequently hit with minor tremors. But in 1999, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake hit the island killing 2,400 people and destroying thousands of buildings.

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