Hotel collapses in quake

UPDATE: 3 p.m.

A magnitude-6.4 earthquake struck Tuesday near the coast of Taiwan, killing two people and injuring more than 200 others, officials said.

The ground floor of the Marshal Hotel in Hualien county caved in, causing the death of one employee. Another person died in a residential building, the national fire and rescue service reported.

Chen Minghui, a maintenance worker who was rescued after being trapped in the hotel's basement, said the force of the earthquake was unusual.

"At first it wasn't that big ... we get this sort of thing all the time and its really nothing. But then it got really terrifying," Chen said after he was reunited with his son and grandson. "It was really scary."

Other buildings shifted on their foundations and rescuers used ladders, ropes and cranes to get residents to safety.

With aftershocks continuing, shell-shocked residents were being directed to shelters, including a newly built baseball stadium, where beds and hot food were provided.

Speaking from a crisis centre in Taipei, Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung said rail links appeared to be unaffected and the runway of Hualien airport was intact.

"We're putting a priority on Hualien people being able to return home to check on their loved ones," Hsu said.

UPDATE: 11:45 a.m.

Tuesday's earthquake near the coast of Taiwan has killed two hotel employees and injured 144 others, officials say.

UPDATE: 11:15 a.m.

A magnitude-6.4 earthquake struck Tuesday near the coast of Taiwan, and people may be trapped inside a building.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake struck late Tuesday about 21 kilometres northeast of Hualien, on the island's east coast.

Taiwan's official Central News Agency reported that the ground floor of the Marshal Hotel had caved in and people were believed to be trapped inside. The agency posted photos showing a road fractured in several parts.

Taiwanese media reported that aside from the cave-in on the ground floor of the Marshal Hotel, a separate hotel known as the Beautiful Life Hotel, is tilting.

Tuesday night's quake follows one over the weekend off the coast of Hualien on the east of Taiwan, which lies along the famed "Pacific Rim of Fire" known for seismic activity from Alaska to Southeast Asia.

The agency quoted a spokesman of Taiwan's Executive Yuan, the governing cabinet's office, as saying that search teams from other areas were headed to Hualien.

The preliminary information suggests the quake was about 9.5 km deep.

UPDATE: 10:45 a.m.

There are reports people may be trapped inside at least one hotel in Hualien, Taiwan, following a magnitude 6.4 earthquake.

The city is on the island's east coast.

Taiwanese media are reporting that in addition to a cave-in on the ground floor of the Marshal Hotel, the Beautiful Life Hotel is tilting.

Search teams from other areas are heading to Hualien.

ORIGINAL: 10:15 a.m.

A major earthquake has struck Taiwan, causing severe damage and the collapse of a hotel.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the magnitude 6.4 quake struck near the coast.

Social media reports indicate several fatalities so far.

More to come

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