Two dead, over 200 injured in Taiwan quake

Rescue workers search through rubble outside the Marshal Hotel in Hualien, eastern Taiwan, after a strong earthquake struck the island. A hotel on the east coast of Taiwan has collapsed after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake. (AFP)
Updated 07 February 2018
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Two dead, over 200 injured in Taiwan quake

TAIPEI: A 6.4-magnitude quake on the east coast of Taiwan has left two dead and more than 200 injured, the government said, after buildings crumbled and trapped people inside.
A hotel and a residential block were the worst hit by the quake in the port city of Hualien, according to the national fire agency.
Five more buildings including a hospital had also been damaged, the agency added, with televison footage showing roads strewn with rubble, cracks along highways and damaged buildings tilted at angles.
The worst-hit Marshal Hotel partly crumpled into the ground, leaving it slanting on its side, as rescuers on cranes attempted to free people from its upper floors.
“It’s the biggest quake I’ve experienced in Hualien in more than 10 years,” resident Blue Hsu told AFP, who said his home shook violently.
Describing the scene at the Marshal Hotel, Hsu said the bottom storys had been crushed.
“The lower floors sunk into the ground and I saw panicked tourists being rescued from the hotel. There is one bulldozer and about 50 rescuers on the scene,” he said.
Hualien is one of Taiwan’s most popular tourist hubs as it lies on the picturesque east coast rail line and is near to popular Taroko Gorge.
Facebook user Sun Chen-hsiang, who was livestreaming the scene at the hotel from a distance, told how the building next to his home had collapsed.
“All the people watching this livestream, please get yourself to a safe place and don’t stay home,” he said.
Photos on Apple Daily showed a man calling for help from the window of an apartment block and a ceiling collapse at a local hospital.
Officials from Hualien fire department said 149 people had been rescued from damaged buildings.
Authorities said some people remained trapped but were unable to give an overall figure.
Rescuers from around the island were preparing to help, Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen said on her Facebook page, promising rapid disaster relief.
There had been at least 15 aftershocks following the quake, Taiwan’s weather bureau said.

The quake hit at 23:50 p.m. (1550 GMT) around 21 kilometers (13 miles) northeast of Hualien, according to the United States Geological Survey.
It follows almost 100 smaller tremors to have hit the area in the last three days and comes exactly two years since a quake of the same magnitude struck the southern Taiwanese city of Tainan, killing more than 100 people.
Most of the deaths from the February 2016 earthquake were from the 16-story Wei-kuan apartment complex, which toppled on its side with many of its residents buried in the rubble.
It was the only high-rise in Tainan to crumble completely in the quake, which came two days before Lunar New Year, when many people would have been visiting relatives for the biggest celebration of the Chinese calendar.
The safety of the building was called into question immediately after the disaster, when metal cans and foam were found to have been used as fillers in the concrete and residents said there had been cracks in the structure.
Five people were found guilty and sentenced to five years imprisonment over the disaster, including the developer and two architects, with prosecutors saying they “cut corners” that affected the building’s structural integrity.
Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is regularly hit by earthquakes.
The island’s worst tremor in recent decades was a 7.6 magnitude quake in September 1999 that killed around 2,400 people.
 


Pakistan’s top court grants bail to former PM Sharif on medical grounds

Updated 26 March 2019
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Pakistan’s top court grants bail to former PM Sharif on medical grounds

  • Nawaz Sharif is serving a seven-year sentence imposed last year for failing to disclose his source of income to acquire Al-Azizia Steel Mills

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to release former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on bail for six weeks to receive medical treatment but said he would not be allowed to leave the country.
Sharif is serving a seven-year sentence imposed last year for failing to disclose the source of income that allowed him to acquire the Al-Azizia Steel Mills in Saudi Arabia. He has appealed.
The case was heard by a three-judge panel headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa.
The three-time former premier has been suffering from a heart condition and kidney problems and has been admitted to hospital. A previous bail appeal was rejected last month.
The Supreme Court removed Sharif from office in July 2017 for not disclosing part of a salary drawn from his son’s company and he was later convicted in two separate cases of failing to disclose sources of income.
In one of those cases, over the ownership of upmarket properties in London, the high court granted him bail last September, suspending a 10-year sentence until a final decision on his appeal against the conviction.
The appeal process in both cases is continuing.
Sharif has termed the charges against him politically motivated and accused the military and courts of working together to end his political career and destabilize his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party.