Hundreds Believed Trapped in Toppled Buildings After 6.4-Magnitude Quake Strikes Taiwan

Rescuers pulled people trapped in the rubble and stranded in high-rise apartments.

A massive rescue effort is underway in Taiwan to save hundreds of people believed to be trapped in buildings after a 6.4-magnitude quake rocked eastern Taiwan just before midnight Tuesday.

Six people have been reported dead and more than 200 are injured as rescuers struggled to pluck people from pancaked high-rises and piles of rubble, according to Reuters. The Interior Ministry said Tuesday that a 60-year-old woman and a 66-year-old man were among those killed.

In Hualien City, a residential building was seen toppled over and at a dangerous angle. Dozens of people there are believed to be trapped.

Hotels collapsed, trapping guests and workers. Chen Minghui, a maintenance worker at the Marshal Hotel in Hualien was stuck in the basement. "At first it wasn't that bad," he told The Associated Press. "We get this sort of thing all the time and it's really nothing. But then it got really terrifying," Chen said after meeting up with his son and grandson. "It was really very scary."

Rescuers used cranes, ladders and resorted to ropes to free those stranded in buildings where floors collapsed on top of each other. Some were pulled from windows. 

A hospital was also damaged, but no one was trapped inside the medical center, according to officials.

Tuesday's temblor was preceded by 5.3- and 6.1-magnitude quakes Sunday, but there were no deaths in those temblors.

Rescue efforts were hampered by roads and bridges that buckled and cracked, preventing their use.

"We know there are people who are trapped inside, we can see lights inside the hotel," Zeena Starbuck said, according the BBC. "People are shining their lights to let people know they're there."

Tuesday's earthquake came exactly two years after a 6.4-magnitude quake killed 115 in southern Taiwan. In 1999, a magnitude-7.6 quake killed more than 2,300 people.