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EDM Wednesday Briefing: Taiwan Struggles to Rescue Quake Victims in Tilting Buildings

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Emergency and disaster briefing for February 7, 2018: Taiwan struggles to rescue victims trapped in still-tilting buildings after a 6.4 earthquake, another sheriff’s deputy is killed in the line of duty in Colorado, airlines cancel flights and strand passengers as another winter storm moves from the Midwest to the East Coast, Syria is being accused of using banned chemical weapons in its latest attack on Sunday, Olympic workers have been quarantined after an outbreak of the norovirus, AccuWeather sent out a false tsunami warning but blames the National Weather Service, Alabama becomes the latest state to file a lawsuit against an opioid manufacturer, and Hong Kong closes schools due to an outbreak of the flu.

  1. A magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck the coast of Taiwan late Tuesday, [link url=”” title=”killing at least 4 people, leaving nearly 100 people unaccounted for, and injuring scores of others”], including at least two dozen people who were critically hurt in Hualien County. The quake shifted some buildings and homes off their foundations, and toppled at least four high rise buildings, leaving them at odd angles and trapping people inside. Rescue crews are working diligently to free survivors, but some buildings are still tilting, rendering them unsafe to enter. [link url=”” title=”The strong tremor also buckled roadways, disrupted water supplies, and cut power”] to many of the residents in Hualien and surrounding areas. 
  2. Another sheriff’s deputy in Colorado has died in the line of duty after being shot while confronting a car theft suspect. A total of five people were shot when the suspect, 19-year-old Manuel Zetina, drew a handgun and opened fire on officers Monday afternoon, [link url=”” title=”striking and killing El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy Micah Flick, 34″], wounding three other officers, and also striking a civilian on the street. [link url=”” title=”The suspect was killed during the exchange of gunfire”]. Flick is the third sheriff’s deputy to be shot and killed in the line of duty in Colorado since December 31, the most recent death occurring on January 24.  
  3. On Tuesday, [link url=”” title=”airlines cancelled hundreds of flights for Wednesday in anticipation of an impending winter storm”], stranding travelers across the area, with Newark’s Liberty airport the most affected. The latest storm has brought everything from a light dusting of snow in the Chicago area, [link url=”” title=”to 1 to 4 inches of snow to parts of Illinois, Indiana, Southern Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania”], and impacted areas along the lower outskirts of the storm with freezing rain accumulations of at least a quarter of an inch. Weather conditions have made morning commutes treacherous across the affected regions and will likely impact the evening commute for residents up and down the East Coast.  
  4. [link url=”” title=”Syria is being accused of using a banned chemical weapon in its latest attack”] which was carried out on Sunday in Saraqib, in the Idlib Province. The group, [link url=”” title=”Amnesty International, has accused the Assad regime of using chlorine gas in its Sunday attack”], showing what they call an “utter contempt” of international law. The latest chemical attack occurred just one day before a U.S.-proposed statement condemning the continued use of chemical weapons in the war-torn nation failed in the U.N. Security Council.  
  5. Organizers for the Olympic Games have stated that [link url=”,200-security-workers-at-Pyeongchang-tested-for-norovirus” title=”32 security workers are in quarantine”] and approximately 1,200 other security and Olympic staff members in Pyeongcheng have been confined to their rooms after an outbreak of the norovirus on Sunday. [link url=”” title=”Stringent measures are being taken to disinfect and sanitize”] anything or any area contacted by the infected persons. Olympic officials have stated that even with the outbreak, [link url=”,200-security-workers-at-Pyeongchang-tested-for-norovirus” title=”the games are still on schedule to start February 9″]. 
  6. On Tuesday morning, [link url=”” title=”another false alert was sent via a mobile app from AccuWeather”] that stated the East Coast, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean were under a tsunami warning. The false alert resulted from a test message sent by the National Tsunami Warning Center (part of the NWS) around 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, [link url=”” title=”that due to an unknown error, was interpreted by the AccuWeather app as a real warning”]. According to reports, AccuWeather is [link url=”” title=”blaming the National Weather Service for the false alert”], stating that it is the responsibility of the NWS to properly code messages since they are the only ones who know if the message is correct or not.  
  7. [link url=”” title=”Alabama has become the latest state to file a lawsuit against opioid makers”] with its suit against the manufacturer of OxyContin and other opioids. In its effort to hold drug companies accountable for the opioid addition epidemic, the suit was filed on Tuesday against Purdue Pharma, L.P. and its branches, claiming that [link url=”” title=”the company engaged in deceptive marketing practices that misled patients and doctors about the risks and benefits”] of the powerful painkilling drugs and allowed them to reap significant profits. Alabama had more than 5.8 million opioid prescriptions written in 2015, ranking it first in the nation for number of painkiller prescriptions per capita.  
  8. An [link url=”” title=”outbreak of the flu in Hong Kong”] has resulted in kindergarten and primary schools being closed early for their new year holiday to help disinfect school buildings and prevent the spread of the virus. [link url=”” title=”More than 120 people, including at least 2 children, have died from the flu in Hong Kong”] since the start of the new year. Health experts state that the flu is widespread across the globe, including in Europe, Asia, and North America, with the most prevalent strain being the Australian flu, or the H3N2 strain.  

Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.

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