Updated: 07/02/18 : 09:32:18
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World :: Series of powerful aftershocks hit Taiwan

Aftershocks continue to rattle Taiwan after a strong earthquake that killed at least four people and injured more than 200 others.

The powerful 6.4-magnitude tremor struck at 23:50 (15:50 GMT) about 20km (12 miles) off the island's east coast.

Multiple buildings across the city of Hualien have been badly damaged. More than 140 people still remain unaccounted for from one building.

Hualien, a popular tourist hub, is home to about 100,000 people.

Residents in the city of Hualien have been told to stay away from their damaged homes, and about 800 have taken shelter in community buildings because of the aftershocks.

Images from the city showed tilted structures, scattered debris and extensive damage to roads in the area.

The Yunman Cuidi building, which has residential and commercial floors, is tilting to one side after sustaining major damage. About 143 of its residents remain unaccounted for, local media said.

Rescuers on Wednesday morning were still working to reach at least five other people who are thought to be trapped in buildings including two people believed to be stuck inside the Marshal Hotel.

Among the several badly damaged buildings was a hospital, local media said.

"We were still open when [the earthquake] happened," Lin Ching-wen, who operates a restaurant near the hospital told newswire Reuters.

"I grabbed my wife and children and we ran out and tried to rescue people."

Emergency responders, including soldiers, worked through the night, rescuing about 150 people from damaged buildings, but powerful aftershocks have disrupted rescue efforts.

The earthquake comes exactly two years after a previous quake in the Taiwanese city of Tainan that killed at least 116 people.

Taiwan has been rocked by more than 100 earthquakes so far this month, according to the government. The island sits near a junction of two tectonic plates and is regularly hit by earthquakes.

Taiwan has for all practical purposes been independent since 1950, but China regards it as a rebel region that must be reunited with the mainland.