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Taiwan quake kills 12, search interrupted by gas smell

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The search for the five missing mainland tourists has been halted due to the smell of gas, local fire fighting authorities said late Friday, adding that rescue work will be continued after the smell disperses.

A total of 12 people have been confirmed dead, of whom four are from the Chinese mainland, five from Taiwan, one from the Philippines and two from Canada. A total of 278 people were injured in the earthquake.

The missing five tourists, including one child, come from Beijing and are believed to be trapped in the Yun Men Tusi Ti building.

All the mainland tour groups in Taiwan are currently safe, according to the Taipei office of the Association for Tourism Exchange across the Taiwan Straits Friday.

The office has been in touch with the families of the four mainland victims and five missing mainland tourists and are helping them to visit Taiwan.

The Ministry of Public Security has offered expedited travel certificates for the family members, said the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.

In the meantime, the National Tourism Administration plans to send a team to help deal with the aftermath.

According to the China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC), the magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck waters near Hualien at 11:50 p.m. Tuesday.

It was the most severe earthquake to hit Hualien in five decades.

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