Two people have died and dozens of others are trapped in buildings after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake shook a city on the east coast of the island.
Taiwan’s official Central News Agency says the ground floor of the Marshal Hotel, a building in the Hualien district, has caved in and people are believed to be trapped inside.
“Two people were unfortunately killed, and 114 have suffered light or severe injuries,” Taiwan’s premier William Lai told an emergency government meeting.
Local media reported the two people killed were hotel employees.
Four other buildings, including two hotels, also tilted during the earthquake and the government also confirmed that a military hospital had been damaged.
The tremor was felt shortly before midnight on Tuesday, forcing the closure of a busy road nearby.
The epicentre was very shallow at just 1km.
The government said a bridge in the city on Taiwan’s eastern coast could not be used, and the structure of an inn had tilted during the earthquake.
Tuesday’s tremor comes after a magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck nearby on Sunday.
The president’s office said in a statement following the second earthquake: “The president (Tsai Ing-wen) has asked the cabinet and related ministries to immediately launch the disaster mechanism and to work at the fastest rate on disaster relief work.”
Several buildings in Hualien were tilting or caved in, according to the Central News Agency.
The agency quoted a spokesman of Taiwan’s Executive Yuan, the governing cabinet’s office, as saying that search teams from other areas were headed to Hualien.
The preliminary information suggests the quake was about 9.5km (6 miles) deep.
Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is regularly hit by earthquakes.
The island’s worst tremor in recent decades was a 7.6 magnitude quake in September 1999 which killed around 2,400 people.