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Three Die in Earthquakes in Taiwan

May 17, 2000

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ Several moderate earthquakes hit central Taiwan today, killing three people and triggering landslides that blocked roads, officials said.

The casualties were caused by three temblors that jolted Taichung County, about 80 miles south of the capital, Taipei.

A hotel worker died in the town of Kukuan when the shaking caused him to fall, the Central News Agency reported. Details were not available on the three other deaths.

Fire department officials said 12 people were injured and 39 others stranded after landslides blocked mountain roads.

The earthquakes hit Taiwan’s central mountain region, and television news reports showed trees felled by the tremors, huge boulders blocking roads and a pickup truck demolished by falling debris.

Many people _ some bloodied and bruised _ were stranded on the roads and emergency workers raced to get the injured into helicopters bound for hospitals.

The quakes provoked a rare friendly response from China following months of tensions between them. China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits _ the agency that handles Taiwan relations _ offered its ``profound condolences,″ the state-run Xinhua News Agency said.

The most severe quake today was of magnitude 5.3. Its epicenter was about 25 miles northeast of the Sun Moon Lake resort area, the island’s largest natural lake, the Central Weather Bureau said. The lake is about 95 miles south of Taipei.

Five more moderate earthquakes followed near Taichung and the lake resort.

Last September, a 7.6-magnitude quake jolted the same region, killing about 2,400 people and destroying thousands of homes. Since then, more than 12,000 aftershocks and tremors have rattled Taiwan. Most have been harmless.

Taiwan, located along the earthquake-prone Pacific Rim and crisscrossed by 51 fault lines, is struck by scores of earthquakes each year but few cause serious damage.

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