Helicopter plucks miners to safety as Taiwan searches for missing after quake

A helicopter plucked six miners to safety from a Taiwan quarry Thursday as rescuers worked to free scores of people trapped in highway tunnels after the island's biggest earthquake in a quarter of a century.

Nine people were killed and more than 1,000 injured in Wednesday's magnitude-7.4 quake, but strict building regulations and widespread public disaster awareness appear to have staved off a major catastrophe on the island.

Dozens of residents of the worst-hit city spent a night outdoors rather in apartments still being shaken by aftershocks, and a massive engineering operation was under way to fix damaged roads and prop up tilting buildings.

Dramatic video released Thursday by the island's Central Emergency Operation Centre showed a helicopter flying two sorties to pluck six miners trapped in a gypsum quarry in Hualien county, near the epicentre of the quake.

Rescuers knew the whereabouts of dozens more people trapped in a network of strongly built tunnels in the county, a feature of the roads that cut through the scenic mountains and cliffs leading to Hualien City from the north and west.

"I also hope that we can use today's time to find all people who are stranded and unaccounted for and help them settle down," Premier Chen Chien-jen said after a briefing at an emergency operation centre in Hualien.

The island has been shaken by over 300 strong aftershocks since the first quake, and the government warned people to be wary of landslides or rockfalls if they ventured to the countryside for Qingming, a two-day public holiday that began Thursday.

Families traditionally visit the tombs of their ancestors on the holiday to clean the gravesites and burn offerings.

"Do not go to the mountains unless necessary,"...

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