Mormon missionaries safe following powerful Taiwan quake

HUALIEN, Taiwan — All Mormon missionaries are safe and accounted for following a powerful earthquake in Taiwan on Feb. 6 that killed at least eight and injured hundreds more.

Meanwhile, Church officials were still working at press time to gather information on the status of local Latter-day Saints and Church properties, according to Church spokesman Daniel Woodruff.

The magnitude 6.4 quake rattled the popular tourist city of Hualien just before midnight Tuesday — toppling buildings, buckling streets and leaving thousands without water and power.

Hualien Mayor Fu Kun-chi said about 60 people were missing, according to Reuters news service. Many of the missing were believed to be trapped inside multi-storied buildings, some of which tilted precariously after the quake struck about 14 miles northeast of Hualien on the island nation’s east coast.

An update on the Taiwan Taipei Mission website noted that the damage to missionary apartments was limited to items falling off bookshelves. Missionaries evacuated from their apartments in the Hualien area were not being allowed to re-enter their residences until government officials had deemed them safe.

“We are so proud of our missionaries who remembered to grab their 72-hour kits before they left their apartments,” the update noted.

Facebook posts from Taiwan noted that several missionaries serving in impacted neighborhoods found shelter Tuesday at a local Mormon meetinghouse.

Missionaries serving in the Taiwan Taipei Mission were also directed to email anxious parents and let them know they were safe.

Taiwan is a seismic region and earthquakes are fairly common. A massive quake in 1999 rattled the entire island and killed more than 2,000. Still, the force of the Hualien temblor will never be forgotten.

“This is the worst earthquake in the history of Hualien, or at least over the past 40 years that I’ve been alive,” said relief volunteer Yang Hsi Hua in the Reuters report. “We’ve never had anything like this, we’ve never had a building topple over. Also, it was constantly shaking, so everyone was really scared, we ran to empty open spaces to avoid it.”

Nerves were further rattled by aftershocks that will likely continue over the next two weeks.