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Aftershocks rock Taiwan in quake aftermath

HUNDREDS of aftershocks rocked Taiwan on Monday and seismologists

warned frightened residents to brace for more to come as the death

toll in the island’s latest earthquake rose to five.

No casualties were reported in the aftershocks which struck in

the aftermath of Sunday’s quake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale.

Seismologists said as of 11:00am Monday (0300 GMT) there had

been 294 aftershocks, including one measuring 4.9 on the Richter

scale which had its epicentre deep under sea.

One tremor measuring 4.8 on the Richter Scale hit at 1:09am

(1709 GMT Sunday) with its epicentre 11.1 kilometres

under the sea, about 10 kilometres east of north-eastern

Ilan.

Another measuring 4.5 struck five hours later in roughly the

same area.

Three of the dead were workers who fell from the 56th and 52th

floors of the half-completed Taipei Financial Centre, which is

planned to be the world’s tallest building.

Sunday’s quake sent two heavy cranes and machinery beavering

away on the building crashing to the ground. A taxi driver who

stopped at traffic lights near the building was killed when one of

the cranes smashed into his car.

The National Fire Administration (NFA), which coordinates major

rescue operations, said that among the 272 injured, 20 workers were from the site.

One of the injured also a worker on the site, died overnight in

hospital, raising the death toll to five, the NFA said.

Work on the building will now be suspended for safety checks,

said Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou.

Kuo Kai-wen, director of the weather bureau’s Seismology Centre,

warned that strong aftershocks could be expected in next two weeks.

The capital, housed in a basin, was worst hit by the quake due

to its closeness to the epicentre, Kuo said.

He said the destructive power of Monday’s quake was equivalent

to that of eight atomic bombs, while the 7.6 quake which smashed

central Taiwan on September 21, 1999 matched that of 46 atomic

bombs.

The 1999 deadly earthquake, Taiwan’s worst in a century, left

2 400 dead and some 100 000 homeless.

The Taipei Financial Centre is designed to be 508 metres (1 674

feet) tall, dwarfing the world’s tallest building, the 452-metre

(1 492-foot) Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur.

Construction of the skyscraper began in 1999 and had been

expected to be completed in February 2004.

Shen Yun-fei, the centre’s deputy manager, said an investigation

was underway over whether there had been negligence involved in the

deaths and injuries at the construction site.

But he gave assurances over the safety of the building, saying

it was designed to sustain powerful earthquakes. – Sapa-AFP

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