Earthquake-hit Taiwan city still on edge as rescuers hunt survivors

Rescuers brave aftershocks as Taiwan quake toll rises to 9

Many of them were believed to be trapped in a structure, the 12-story Yunmen Cuiti building, that housed a small hotel, apartments and a hot-pot restaurant.

Japan sent a team of seven search and rescue experts to Taiwan on Thursday to help find survivors, the government's top spokesman said.

Rescuers focused on the Yunmen Tsuiti residential building that was tilted at a almost 45-degree angle, erecting long steel beams to prevent it from collapsing.

But many of Taiwan's older buildings remain perilously vulnerable to even moderate strength quakes. Windows had collapsed and the building was wedged into the ground at a roughly 40-degree angle.

MECO chief Angelito Banayo said the missing Filipina, Melody Albano Castro, is employed as a caretaker in an nursing home for the elderly at the devastated city of Hualien.

Rescuers were working Wednesday to try to reach people who were trapped after a strong natural disaster near Taiwan's east coast caused several buildings to cave in and tilt dangerously.

Instead she was bedding down at convenience stores which she felt were safer.

"Floors one to three are all compressed so it's hard to tell whether there are people", he said.

It was initially feared as many as 150 people may have been missing in the rubble.

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By early Thursday local time, the death toll had been pinned at nine people, with at least 63 other people missing.

"I think we will stay here until the rescue operation is finished", she said.

At the same time, concern remains that further danger awaits the city of 100,000 in the days to come. At least eight people were killed and over 260 injured.

The woman, named as 39-year-old Yu Fei, was traveling with the couple's young son on the island. She passed away Wednesday evening after suffering a head injury during the quake, the news agency reported.

Hualien is close to Taiwan's famous Taroko Gorge, a popular tourist destination. She was pulled from the wrecked building and later died in a hospital.

As of Wednesday morning 145 people were unaccounted for, according to CNA, Taiwan's official news agency, with four buildings in the area either tilting or already collapsed.

"Thank you to our first responders for their tireless efforts in #Hualien", President Tsai Ing-wen, who visited the disaster scene Wednesday, wrote on Twitter.

The country suffered a strong 7.6-magnitude tremor in 1999, which killed at least 2,415 people.

The shifting of the buildings after the magnitude 6.4 quake late Tuesday night was likely caused by soil liquefaction, when the ground beneath a building loses its solidity under stress such as that caused by an natural disaster.

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