At least four killed, 145 missing after quake rocks Taiwan tourist area

HUALIEN, Taiwan (Reuters) - Rescuers combed through the rubble of collapsed buildings on Wednesday, some using their hands as they searched for about 145 people missing after a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck near the popular Taiwanese tourist city of Hualien overnight.

At least four people were killed and 225 injured in the quake that hit near the coastal city just before midnight (1600 GMT) on Tuesday, officials said. The latest figures from government data indicated 145 people were missing.

Many of those were believed to be still trapped inside buildings, including a military hospital, after the quake hit about 14 miles northeast of Hualien on Taiwan's east coast.

Aftershocks with a magnitude of at least 5.0 could rock the island in the next two weeks, the government said. Japanese, Czech and mainland Chinese nationals were among the injured.

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Taiwan Earthquake: scenes from the ground
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Taiwan Earthquake: scenes from the ground
Rescue workers block off the area to search for survivors outside a building which tilted to one side after its foundation collapsed in Hualien after a strong 6.4-magnitude quake rocked eastern Taiwan early on February 7, 2018. The 6.4-magnitude earthquake on the east coast of Taiwan has left two dead and more than 200 injured, the government said on February 7, after buildings crumbled and trapped people inside. / AFP PHOTO / Paul YANG (Photo credit should read PAUL YANG/AFP/Getty Images)
Three British tourists sit outside a collapsed building in Hualien after a strong 6.4-magnitude quake rocked eastern Taiwan early on February 7, 2018. The 6.4-magnitude earthquake on the east coast of Taiwan has left two dead and more than 200 injured, the government said on February 7, after buildings crumbled and trapped people inside. / AFP PHOTO / Paul YANG (Photo credit should read PAUL YANG/AFP/Getty Images)
Rescue workers search through rubble outside the Marshal Hotel in Hualien, eastern Taiwan early February 7, 2018, after a strong earthquake struck the island. A hotel on the east coast of Taiwan has collapsed after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake, the government said. / AFP PHOTO / STR / Taiwan OUT (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A damaged vehicle stands in rubble outside the Marshal Hotel in Hualien, eastern Taiwan early February 7, 2018, after a strong earthquake struck the island. A hotel on the east coast of Taiwan has collapsed after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake, the government said. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL YANG / Taiwan OUT (Photo credit should read PAUL YANG/AFP/Getty Images)
Local residents stay outside their homes in Hualien after a strong 6.4-magnitude quake rocked eastern Taiwan early on February 7, 2018. The 6.4-magnitude earthquake on the east coast of Taiwan has left two dead and more than 200 injured, the government said on February 7, after buildings crumbled and trapped people inside. / AFP PHOTO / Paul YANG (Photo credit should read PAUL YANG/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Rescue workers search through rubble outside the Marshal Hotel in Hualien, eastern Taiwan early February 7, 2018, after a strong earthquake struck the island. A hotel on the east coast of Taiwan has collapsed after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake, the government said. / AFP PHOTO / STR / Taiwan OUT (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A fireman works at a collapses building after earthquake hit Hualien, Taiwan February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone�Siu
Rescue personnel search a collapses building after an earthquake hit Hualien, Taiwan February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone�Siu
Rescue personnel search a collapses building after an earthquake hit Hualien, Taiwan February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone�Siu
A damaged building is seen after an earthquake hit Hualien, Taiwan February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone�Siu
Rescue personnel search a collapses building after an earthquake hit Hualien, Taiwan February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone�Siu
A police officer stands guard outside a damaged building after an earthquake hit Hualien, Taiwan February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone�Siu
Rescue workers check the quake site in Hualien after a strong 6.4-magnitude quake rocked eastern Taiwan early on February 7, 2018. The 6.4-magnitude earthquake on the east coast of Taiwan has left two dead and more than 200 injured, the government said on February 7, after buildings crumbled and trapped people inside. / AFP PHOTO / Paul YANG (Photo credit should read PAUL YANG/AFP/Getty Images)
Rescure workers search the damaged Marshal Hotel in Hualien, eastern Taiwan, early February 7, 2018, after a strong earthquake struck the island. A hotel on the east coast of Taiwan has collapsed after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake, the government said. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL YANG / Taiwan OUT (Photo credit should read PAUL YANG/AFP/Getty Images)
Rescue workers search through rubble outside the Marshal Hotel in Hualien, eastern Taiwan early February 7, 2018, after a strong earthquake struck the island. A hotel on the east coast of Taiwan has collapsed after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake, the government said. / AFP PHOTO / STR / Taiwan OUT (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Two guests are escorted by rescue workers from the damaged Marshal Hotel in Hualien, eastern Taiwan early February 7, 2018, after a strong earthquake struck the island. A hotel on the east coast of Taiwan has collapsed after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake, the government said. / AFP PHOTO / YANG JEN-FU / Taiwan OUT (Photo credit should read YANG JEN-FU/AFP/Getty Images)
Costumers escaped from the damaged Marshal Hotel stay outside in Hualien, eastern Taiwan, after a strong quake on February 7, 2018. A hotel on the east coast of Taiwan has collapsed after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake, the government said. / AFP PHOTO / YANG JEN-FU (Photo credit should read YANG JEN-FU/AFP/Getty Images)
Rescue workers block off the area outside a building which tilted to one side after its foundation collapsed in Hualien after a strong 6.4-magnitude quake rocked eastern Taiwan early on February 7, 2018. The 6.4-magnitude earthquake on the east coast of Taiwan has left two dead and more than 200 injured, the government said on February 7, after buildings crumbled and trapped people inside. / AFP PHOTO / Paul YANG (Photo credit should read PAUL YANG/AFP/Getty Images)
Houses in Hualien after magnitude 6.0 earthquake. #earthquake #PrayForTaiwan #taipei #taiwan https://t.co/FGP4IGP3HG
Emergency services are working to free anyone trapped inside a hotel which collapsed after a shallow 6.4-magnitude… https://t.co/LxcFFVeOea
Photos of latest #Taiwan earthquake shared on Line group chat. Stay safe, everyone!! https://t.co/UmXgXH1YBj https://t.co/4CupAQ49sE
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Residents waited and watched anxiously as emergency workers dressed in fluorescent orange and red suits and wearing helmets searched for residents trapped in apartment blocks.

Hualien is home to about 100,000 people. Its streets were buckled by the force of the quake, with around 40,000 homes left without water and around 1,900 without power.

Emergency workers surrounded a damaged military hospital in the area. Windows had collapsed and the building was wedged into the ground at a 40-degree angle.

Rescuers worked their way around and through the building while residents looked on from behind cordoned-off roads.

"We were still open when it happened," said Lin Ching-wen, who operates a restaurant near the military hospital.

"I grabbed my wife and children and we ran out and tried to rescue people," he said.

A Reuters video showed large cracks in the road, while police and emergency services tried to help anxious people roaming the streets.

President Tsai Ing-wen went to the scene of the quake early on Wednesday to help direct rescue operations.

"The president has asked the cabinet and related ministries to immediately launch the 'disaster mechanism' and to work at the fastest rate on disaster relief work," Tsai's office said in a statement.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world's largest contract chipmaker and major Apple supplier, said initial assessments indicated no impact from the earthquake.

Taiwan, a self-ruled island that China considers part of its territory, lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is prone to earthquakes. An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 struck nearby on Sunday.

More than 100 were killed in a quake in southern Taiwan in 2016, and some Taiwanese remain scarred by a 7.6 magnitude quake that was felt across the island and killed more than 2,000 people in 1999.

(Additional reporting by Jeanny Kao and Jess Macy Yu in TAIPEI; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Paul Tait)

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