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“A large rock came through the roof of the bus”… Rescue effort by helicopter and drone

“I couldn’t sleep because of the sound of falling stones all night long in the dark tunnel. “I thought everyone would die like this.”

Mr. Cao, an employee at the Jingying Hotel near Taroko National Park in Hualien County, Taiwan, was on his way to work on the morning of the 3rd, sharing a bus with about 40 colleagues. As I was passing through the tunnel, the ground shook violently and a large rock fell on the roof of the car. The landslide stopped a short time later, but a 17-year-old co-worker was crushed by a stone that broke through the roof of the bus and broke both legs. The inside of the tunnel was gray with dust. The seven people stayed there all night and were rescued on the afternoon of the 4th, 30 hours after being isolated. Mr. Chu, who was also rescued, thanked the rescuers and confessed, “I will never dare climb the mountain again.”

Taiwan, which suffered heavy damage from a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that occurred near Hualien in the northeast on the 3rd, is still doing its best to rescue people a day later. As of 8 p.m. on the 4th, the death toll increased to 10, and the number of injured exceeded 1,000. In particular, as the number of people who are isolated or missing has increased significantly to about 700, they are racing against time by mobilizing all military and firefighting personnel from dawn.

Among the stranded people, about 600 were found to be in hotels or summit offices within Tigeroo National Park, famous for its canyons. The place where Mr. Chao and Mr. Chu were trapped was also the Zhongheng Highway, which runs east to west through the national park. It is a place visited by many tourists as there is an open tunnel or walking path in the middle of the road where you can enjoy the scenery. As the sun rose on the 4th, rescue workers used heavy equipment such as excavators to overcome the blocked road, and rescued seven employees first in the afternoon. About 20 employees near Zhuchudong, about 3km away from where they were discovered, were also captured in good condition by a drone camera used for the search.

However, many of the roads leading to Hualien, which is close to the epicenter, are cut off, and the terrain along the coast and canyons is difficult to access because it is not easy to access. In addition, more than 350 aftershocks continued on the 4th, a day after the earthquake, making rescue more difficult.

Fortunately, news of rescues continues. Eight British and Swiss tourists who were lost while trekking the canyon trail were dramatically rescued this morning. They said they were in a dangerous situation right after the earthquake as their cell phone service was cut off and drinking water ran out, but they survived by eating the snacks they had packed. Because he walked toward the road all night, he was rescued by a transport truck in the morning.

Fifty-nine employees who were stranded at the Heping plant of TCC, Taiwan’s largest cement company, also escaped safely. The fire department delivered relief supplies to them by helicopter early on the morning of the 4th, and the ‘TCC Mining Team’, which went out to find their colleagues, evacuated the employees to a safe place. Taiwanese media outlet Tsuyu Shibo said, “The mining team was from the Heping Aohua tribe, so they were familiar with the local terrain,” and “We guided them down a forest path that had been used a long time ago.”

TSMC, the world’s largest semiconductor foundry company, which had some operations halted due to the earthquake, said in a statement on the night of the 3rd, “Some equipment was damaged and affected the production line, but major facilities, including exposure equipment (EUV), were not affected. “There is no,” he said. However, the equipment return rate is 70-80% depending on the process, so the production schedule is expected to be somewhat disrupted. Taiwanese media predicted that Taiwan’s seven largest fab companies, including TSMC, are expected to suffer a total loss of more than NT$10 billion (about KRW 420 billion) due to this strong earthquake.

Reporter Kim Cheol-joong tnf@donga.com

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