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Two Indian nationals missing after Taiwan earthquake safe, in touch with authorities

The 7.4-magnitude earthquake in Taiwan on Wednesday has killed 12 people as of Friday while injuring more than 1,000 people. As many as 50 aftershocks rattled the country overnight as authorities are conducting rescue operations for others missing after the tremor.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee New Delhi Published on: April 05, 2024 15:01 IST
Taiwan earthquake, missing Indians
Image Source : REUTERS A building damaged after Taiwan experienced a 7.4-magnitude earthquake.

New Delhi: Two Indian nationals who went missing in Taiwan after a 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck the island nation on Wednesday have been able to get in touch with the Ministry of External Affairs and are now in a safe condition, said MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal on Thursday. Hundreds of people went missing after the powerful tremor struck, and the death toll rose to 12.

"According to our information, we were not able to contact two Indian nationals in Taiwan after the earthquake. We have been now able to get in touch with the two Indians. They are safe. This is the information I want to share on the two Indian nationals who were missing earlier," said Jaiswal at a regular press briefing. Meanwhile, about 50 aftershocks rattled the area overnight, some felt as far away as Taipei.

Taiwan's fire department said two bodies were found in the mountains, but wanted to confirm their identities before updating the death toll. It put the number of missing at 13, three of them foreigners of Australian and Canadian nationality. Senior Taiwanese politicians including President Tsai Ing-wen said they were donating a month's salary to relief efforts and Japan also pledged to provide $1 million in aid.

India's condolences to Taiwan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that he is "deeply saddened" by the loss of lives due to the earthquake in Taiwan, offered condolences to the bereaved families and wished for speedy recovery to the injured. He said that India stands in solidarity with the people of Taiwan as they endure the aftermath and recover from it.

In a post on X, PM Modi stated, "Deeply saddened by the loss of lives due to earthquakes in Taiwan today. Our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured. We stand in solidarity with the resilient people of Taiwan as they endure the aftermath and recover from it."

In response to PM Modi's post on X, Outgoing Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and President-elect Lai Ching-Te thanked him for his support at such a "challenging time". "We are deeply grateful for your kind words and support, @narendramodi, at this challenging time. Your solidarity means a great deal to the people of Taiwan as we all work toward a swift recovery," said Tsai.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs also expressed gratitude to PM Modi for his words of sympathy and solidarity. "We're touched by your heartfelt words of sympathy & solidarity, PM @narendramodi. Your compassion is deeply appreciated amid this dark hour for #Taiwan. We're thankful for the kind thoughts from #India & will remain resilient as we rebuild & recover," Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted on X. 

What is the situation in Taiwan?

Taiwan was struck by its most powerful earthquake in 25 years since a 7.6 magnitude earthquake killed about 2,400 people and damaged or destroyed 50,000 buildings. Wednesday’s 7.4-magnitude quake sent boulders and mud tumbling down mountainsides, blocking roads, smashing cars and injuring more than 1,000 people.

In the county seat of Hualien, crews were working to demolish the five-story Tien Wang Hsing building, which was left leaning at a severe angle, one of scores of buildings damaged around the island. Others were still stuck in areas cut off by road blockages, including one Canadian and two persons with joint Australian and Singapore citizenship, according to emergency services. Authorities were using cell phone signals to ascertain their positions.

Rescuers in Taiwan now face the threat of further landslides and rockfalls in Friday's search. The earthquake has crushed business in Hualien, known for its beautiful landscapes, with many bookings cancelled. The quake came a day before Taiwan began a long weekend holiday for the traditional tomb sweeping festival, when people head to their homes to spruce up ancestral graves.

Taiwan is prone to earthquakes because it sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" near the junction of two tectonic plates. The island country is regularly jolted by quakes and its population is among the best prepared for them, but authorities said they had expected a relatively mild earthquake and accordingly did not send out alerts. The eventual quake was strong enough to scare even people who were used to such shaking.

(with inputs from agencies)

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