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Powerful Taiwan earthquake kills 2, topples buildings

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A magnitude-6.4 earthquake rocked Taiwan on Tuesday, killing at least two people, injuring more than 100, toppling buildings and damaging roads, authorities said.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered 13 miles north-northeast of Hualien, a city of more than 100,000 on Taiwan’s east coast. Photos and videos posted on social media show toppled and leaning high-rise buildings and badly damaged roads.

Multiple, strong aftershocks rattled the area, keeping residents and emergency officials on edge.

“Armed forces & government agencies are responding. Relief measures are underway. Stay safe,” Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted.

Taiwan’s CTI -TV reported at least five buildings collapsed in the city. The high-rise Marshal Hotel caved-in, and 116 people were evacuated from the 11-story building after the bottom three floors were crushed, firefighters told Taiwan’s state-owned Central News Agency.

The Hualien Shangxiao Road Community Apartment suffered severe damage and was tilted 45 degrees, the first and second floors almost completely crushed, Taiwan Newsreported. Rescue workers estimated the building contained more than 80 households.

Landslides triggered by the quake closed some vital highways.

Military spokesman Chen Chung-chi told CNA that 88 military members had been dispatched to aid the rescue missions, with 250 more expected to be sent soon.

The quake, at a depth of less than six miles, came two days after another strong temblor struck off Taiwan’s east coast. The earthquake could be felt across Taiwan, CNA reported.

Earthquakes are a fairly common occurrence in Taiwan, which sits on the boundary of two tectonic plates — the Philippine Sea Plate to the East and the Eurasian Plate.