New quake strikes off Taiwan as rescuers work to find people missing after Tuesday's tremor

Rescuers are working to try to reach people who were trapped after a strong earthquake near Taiwan's east coast caused several buildings to cave in and others to tilt dangerously.

Another earthquake strikes near popular tourist destination of Hualien

A damaged residential building is seen after an earthquake hit Hualien, Taiwan, on Wednesday. Rescuers are still working to free people. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters )

As rescuers work to locate dozens of missing people following an earthquake in Taiwan, the country has been hit with another quake on its eastern coast in roughly the same area where one struck just one day earlier.

Taiwan's government said the magnitude 5.7 quake took place late Wednesday near the popular tourist city of Hualien, where a strong, shallow, magnitude 6.4 quake that struck late Tuesday night, causing at least four buildings to cave in and tilt dangerously.

Almost 100 weaker earthquakes were dectected along Taiwan's east coast in the last week. (Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)

Video footage and photos showed several mid-sized buildings in worst-hit Hualien county leaning at sharp angles, their lowest floors crushed into mangled heaps of concrete, shattered glass, bent iron beams and other debris. Firefighters could be seen climbing ladders hoisted against windows as they sought to reach residents inside apartments.

A maintenance worker who was rescued after being trapped in the basement of the Marshal Hotel, after the ground floor had caved in, said the force of the earthquake was unusual.

'It was really scary'

"At first it wasn't that big.... We get this sort of thing all the time and it's really nothing. But then it got really terrifying," the worker, Chen Ming-hui, told Taiwan's official Central News Agency after he was reunited with his son and grandson following the quake. "It was really scary."

One employee of the hotel was killed in the disaster, CNA said. Taiwan's national fire agency said rescuers freed another employee from the rubble, while a third hotel worker was also freed but did not show any vital signs.

Rescuers save a dog from inside a damaged hotel after the earthquake. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

Other buildings shifted on their foundations and rescuers used ladders, ropes and cranes to get residents to safety.

Six people were killed in the quake, while 256 others were injured and 76 unaccounted for, according to the fire agency. ​The number of missing was revised from 88.

16 foreigners sent to hospital

The force of the tremor buckled roads and disrupted electricity and water supplies to thousands of households, the fire agency said.

Japan's foreign ministry said nine Japanese were among the injured. CNA reported that 16 foreigners were sent to various hospitals with injuries.

Residents take shelter in a local stadium after the earthquake and aftershocks in Hualien. (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)

President Tsai Ing-wen moved to reassure the Taiwanese public that every effort would be made to look for survivors. In a post on her official Facebook page, Tsai said she arrived in Hualien on Wednesday to review rescue efforts.

Tsai said she "ordered search and rescue workers not to give up on any opportunity to save people, while keeping their own safety in mind."

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, centre back facing, is briefed Wednesday at the site of a collapsed building. (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)

"This is when the Taiwanese people show their calm, resilience and love," she wrote. "The government will work with everyone to guard their homeland."

40 missing from 1 apartment building

China's official Xinhua News Agency reported that the director of China's Taiwan affairs office, Zhang Zhijun, said China was "willing to send a rescue team to Taiwan" to help with relief efforts, adding that he was aware of a shortage of rescue workers in the disaster area.

China Central Television reported that more than 40 of the missing people were trapped in the Yunmen Cuiti building, a 12-storey apartment building.

Efforts hampered by precarious tilt of highrise building 1:16

Taiwanese media reported that the Beautiful Life Hotel also was tilting. CNA posted photos showing a road fractured in several parts.

Bridges and some highways were closed pending inspections.

Airport, rail links unaffected

With aftershocks continuing to hit after the quake, residents were directed to shelters, including a newly built baseball stadium, where beds and hot food were provided.

Speaking from a crisis centre in Taipei, cabinet spokesperson Hsu Kuo-yung said rail links appeared to be unaffected and the runway of Hualien airport was intact.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake struck 21 kilometres north-northeast of Hualien. (USGS)

"We're putting a priority on Hualien people being able to return home to check on their loved ones," Hsu said.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck just before midnight Tuesday about 21 kilometre northeast of Hualien at a relatively shallow depth of about 10.6 kilometres.

Ring of Fire

Taiwan has frequent earthquakes due to its position along the "Ring of Fire," the seismic faults encircling the Pacific Ocean where most of the world's earthquakes occur.

Panic in streets after major earthquake rocks region 0:46

Exactly two years earlier, a magnitude 6.4 quake collapsed an apartment complex in southern Taiwan, killing 115 people. Five people involved in the construction of the complex were later found guilty of negligence and given prison sentences.

A magnitude 7.6 quake in central Taiwan killed more than 2,300 people in 1999.

Rescue workers carry a 28-year-old Vietnamese woman identified as Chen Mei-jih, found in the rubble of a collapsed building complex, to a waiting ambulance in Tainan, Taiwan, on Monday. (Associated Press)