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At Least Five Dead After Earthquake Hits Southern Taiwan

Rescuers are seen entering an office building that collapsed on its side from an early morning earthquake in Tainan, southern Taiwan, Saturday. The quake's magnitude was 6.4, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

News services say at least five people, including a baby and a 40-year-old man, have been killed in an earthquake in Taiwan.

A magnitude 6.4 quake shook the southern city of Tainan just before 4 a.m. local time Saturday. The shallow quake caused severe damage to several large structures, including one residential building where authorities say hundreds live.

NPR's Elise Hu, in Taiwan, tells All Things Considered that residential building was 17 stories tall but collapsed down to the height of about four stories.

Authorities in Tainan say more than 150 people are being treated for injuries.

Teams have rescued at least 221 people from the rubble. The government has mobilized the army to help with those efforts.

President Ma Ying Jeou and President-elect Tsai Ing Wen have both cancelled Lunar New Year plans to head to Tainan.

"The timing is unfortunate because so many people were asleep in the [residences] that collapsed," Elise says.

She reports that news footage shows people escaping damaged buildings in their pajamas.

The transportation agency in Taiwan announced immediately that the trains in southern Taiwan would not be running. Elise notes that the halted trains will affect New Year holiday travel.

She adds that power is out to about 120,000 people in southern Taiwan.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake was about 14 miles deep and light tremors were felt along the island's entire west coast, up to the northern city of Taipei.

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