Hualien earthquake leaves highways closed, bridges damaged

Taipei, A magnitude 6.0 earthquake that struck Hualien County in eastern Taiwan late Tuesday resulted in infrastructure damage, with several highways closed for safety precautions, according to the Ministry of Communications and Transportation (MOTC) on Wednesday.

The quake caused a bulge on the northern-end of Hualien Bridge on Provincial Highway No. 11, as well as cracks on the piers of Qixingtan Bridge.

Hualien Bridge is currently under traffic control, with vehicles allowed to travel only at specific intervals, according to the ministry.

It said a safety assessment will be available by noon.

The road section between the 172 and 176 kilometer marks on Provincial Highway No. 8 is also closed due to reports of fallen rocks, but is expected to reopen by noon, the ministry said.

Earlier in the day, Suhua Highway was temporarily closed because of rock falls, but was reopened at 3:55 a.m.

Services by the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) were suspended, and Taipei Metro trains were forced to travel at slow speeds immediately after the temblor, but both networks have returned to normal.

The TRA announced it will offer "standing tickets" on its Taroko and Puyuma express trains. The trains usually require that all passengers be seated except for some late night services because their high speeds causes carriages to tilt on curves.

The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) is also working with local airlines to have them operate extra flights to help people get to or leave the area.

Currently, only Uni Air and Mandarin Airlines fly to Hualien. Uni Air has two round-trip Taipei-Hualien flights per day and three Taichung-Hualien flights per week, while Mandarin Airlines flies daily Kaohsiung-Hualien flights.

Source: Focus Taiwan