6.8 Quake Slams Taiwan, Massive
Damage, At Least 2 Dead

By Jason Blatt

TAIPEI, Taiwan (CNN) -- A powerful earthquake hit Taiwan Sunday afternoon, killing at least two people and causing massive damage to the capital city.
Taiwan's central weather bureau measured the quake at 6.8 in magnitude, centered near Hualien in the eastern part of the island.
Local media reports said one man died in his car, when a crane fell from a high-rise building, and hit him. The death toll is expected to rise, as many people have been reported missing in several collapsed buildings across the capital.
Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian (CHEN-SHWAY-bee-EHN) was visiting Hualien when the quake struck at 2:52 p.m. (1:52 a.m. EST) and went on national television to assure the nation he was not harmed.
"I hope everyone is all right," he added.
The force of the quake created "a giant shaking sensation that we felt here in the capital," local journalist Jason Blatt told CNN.
"I can see damage everywhere," he said from his Taipei apartment.
Local media reported three buildings have collapsed or partially collapsed, and Taipei's subway has been shut down after a water pipe at one station broke. Water and gas pipes were also ruptured around the city because of the powerful quake, the reports said.
Landslides cut off a freeway in the eastern part of Taiwan, and threatened several bridges. A rockslide injured an 8-year-old boy near Hualien, local reports said.
In September 1999, more than 2,400 people lost their lives and more than 11,000 were injured in a massive 7.6-magnitude earthquake.

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