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7.4 quake kills 9 in Taiwan, hurts over 800, but no Pinoys injured

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No Filipinos were reported hurt in a powerful earthquake that rocked Taiwan on Wednesday, killing nine and injuring more than 800 people.

“We are thankful that we have not received reports of any of our kababayans being hurt or badly affected by the powerful earthquake that hit Taiwan this morning,” Silvestre Bello, chairman and resident representative of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office, said in a statement.

According to the Department of Migrant Workers’ Facebook page, the Taiwan Ministry of Labor listed 159,480 Filipinos in Taiwan, 150,666 of whom are overseas workers.

The DMW also posted an advisory on their social media, stating that they have opened a Help Desk for OFWs who may need assistance after the earthquake.

The 7.4 magnitude earthquake damaged dozens of buildings and prompted tsunami warnings that extended to Japan and the Philippines before being lifted.

Officials said the quake was the strongest to shake the island in decades and warned of more tremors in the days ahead.

“The earthquake is close to land and it’s shallow. It’s felt all over Taiwan and offshore islands,” said Wu Chien-fu, director of Taipei’s Central Weather Administration’s Seismology Center.

Wu said the quake was the strongest since a 7.6-magnitude struck in September 1999, killing around 2,400 people in the deadliest natural disaster in the island’s history.

Meanwhile, President Marcos assured the government stands ready to assist Filipino workers in the island nation.

The Chief Executive expressed solidarity and extended heartfelt condolences to the people of Taiwan.

“Our hearts are with the people of Taiwan as they endure the aftermath of today’s powerful earthquake,” the chief executive stated.

Rep. Ron Salo of Kabayan party-list group, chair of the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, said his group and the entire House leadership offered prayers for the swift recovery of Taiwan from this disaster and for the continued safety of OFWs residing there.

For its part, the Department of Migrant Workers said the three Migrant Workers Offices (MWOs) in Taiwan has “already activated the protocols with Filipino communities, leaders, relevant Taiwan government agencies as well as employers and trade associations to ascertain the safety and status of Taiwan-based OFWs.

The country’s two largest mobile operators, on the other hand, announced they are providing data load assistance to their roaming subscribers affected by the quake.

“We understand the importance of access to information and communication especially during a disaster. We are praying for the safety of our fellow Filipinos in Taiwan as we continue to monitor this crisis,” Shing Dimagiba, Smart vice president for Postpaid and International Roaming Business said.

Smart and TNT roaming customers will receive free roaming data load assistance for three days in Taiwan that they can use to contact their families or the authorities to report their situation.

Roaming customers in Taiwan simply need to turn on their phones and connect to Smart’s network partners to use this free service. They will receive a text message with instructions that they can easily follow.

Globe is also offering free connectivity support, including roaming call, text and data services, to Filipinos in Taiwan.

To help them get in touch with loved ones or make emergency calls, Globe postpaid and prepaid customers and TM users currently using roaming services in Taiwan will get free 15 minutes of incoming and outgoing calls, 15 texts to all networks, and 1GB data (whichever service is currently available) good for 7 days at no extra cost.

“Tens and thousands of Filipinos work and live in Taiwan, with thousands more going on a visit annually,” Paula Rivera-Castillo, Head of Globe International Business said.

“We hope that through this immediate connectivity support, we can help our customers there contact their loved ones and cope in the aftermath of this temblor,” he added.

The quake hit just before 8:00 am local time with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) putting the epicenter 18 kilometers south of Taiwan’s Hualien City, at a depth of 34.8 kilometers.

Dramatic images were shown on local TV of multi-storey structures in Hualien and elsewhere tilting after the quake ended, while a warehouse in New Taipei City crumbled.

The mayor there said more than 50 survivors had been successfully plucked from the ruins of the structure. Local TV channels showed bulldozers clearing rocks along the main route to Hualien, a mountain-ringed coastal city of around 100,000 people that have been cut off by landslides.

The main roads leading to the city pass through an extensive series of strongly built tunnels — some of them kilometers long – and officials said as many as 120 people could be trapped in vehicles inside.

“We must carefully check how many people are trapped and we must rescue them quickly,” president-elect and current Vice-President Lai Ching-te told reporters in Hualien.

Taiwan is regularly hit by earthquakes as the island lies near the

junction of two tectonic plates, while nearby Japan experiences around 1,500 jolts every year. With Rey Requejo, Charles Dantes, Maricel Cruz, Macon Ramos-Araneta, and Vince Lopez


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