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Rescuers search for people out of contact in Taiwan after strong earthquake

HUALIEN, Taiwan (AP) — Rescuers searched Thursday for dozens of people still out of contact a day after Taiwan’s strongest earthquake in a quarter century damaged buildings, caused multiple rockslides and killed nine people.

In the eastern coastal city of Hualien near the epicenter, workers used an excavator to stabilize the base of the damaged Uranus Building with construction materials, as some officers took samples of its exterior and chickens browsed amid potted plants on its slanted roof.

Mayor Hsu Chen-wei previously said 48 residential buildings had been damaged, some of which were tilting at precarious angles with their ground floors crushed.

Some Hualien residents were still staying in tents, but much of the island’s day-to-day life was returning to normal. Some local rail service to Hualien resumed, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. restarted most operations, the Central News Agency reported.

Hendri Sutrisno, a 30-year-old professor at Hualien Dong Hwa University, spent Wednesday night in a tent with his wife and baby, fearing aftershocks.

“We ran out of the apartment and waited for four to five hours before we went up again to grab some important stuff such as our wallet. And then we’re staying here ever since to assess the situation,” he said.

Others also said they didn’t dare to go home because the walls of their apartments were cracked and they lived on higher floors. Taiwanese Primer Chen Chien-jen visited some earthquake evacuees in the morning at a temporary shelter.

Nearly 1,070 people were injured in the quake that struck Wednesday morning. Of the nine dead, at least four were killed inside Taroko National Park, a Hualien County tourist attraction famous for canyons and cliffs, about 150