Taiwan was struck by the powerful natural disaster just before midnight on Tuesday, damaging buildings in the city of Hualien, killing four people and leaving and some 80 others missing, according to reports. "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.
Among the injured were mainland Chinese, Czech, Japanese, Singaporean and South Korean nationals.
Lai made the announcement while presiding over an ad hoc meeting at the Central Emergency Operation Center in New Taipei City, which is coordinating rescue efforts and assessing damage in the aftermath of the magnitude 6.0 quake.
The magnitude-6.4 quake struck on Tuesday, 14 miles (23 kilometres) north-east of Hualien.
Cellphone video from Hualien City shows a large building leaning at a unsafe angle as sirens are heard in the background.
At the city's Marshal Hotel, rescuers trying to free two trapped Taiwanese pulled out one alive, but the other person was declared dead, the government said. Rescue crews continue to search night and day for survivors.
Instead she was bedding down at convenience stores which she felt were safer.
The quake struck late Tuesday in the East China Sea, north of Hualien, an eastern county that's home to more than 350,000 people. "This is when the Taiwanese people show their calmness, resilience and love".
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The service is set to commence at 2.40pm, with a minute's silence at 3.04pm to the mark the time of the disaster. I played, and at one point Liam gave me a lovely pass that meant I couldn't miss.
Chu Che-min, the Hualien fire department's rescue team leader at the scene, said they located two more bodies overnight.
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.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday visited Hualien City to inspect affected sites and instructed all rescue workers to concentrate their efforts on identifying victims who might still be trapped in the rubble.
The quake hit the island nation 11:50 pm (local time) (3.50pm GMT) on Tuesday, around 21 kilometres, northeast of the port city of Hualien, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
Taiwan is situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, which runs around the edge of the Pacific Ocean and is known for causing massive seismic and volcanic activity from Indonesia to Chile.
Five people were later found guilty over the disaster, including the developer and two architects, for building an inadequate structure.
Rescuers were digging "nonstop on the backside of the building" to try to find people feared trapped on the lower floors, Hualien County fire commander Zhu Zhe-min said.
The country suffered a strong 7.6-magnitude tremor in 1999, which killed at least 2,415 people.