The Yunmen Tsuiti building was one of several damaged by the magnitude-6.4 quake late Tuesday. "Right now we don't know what will happen".
"There were constant aftershocks so I didn't really dare stay at home".
Aside from the four toppled buildings, however, he said he had not heard of much significant damage, except for the odd wall falling over.
Residents take shelter in a local stadium after the quake and aftershocks in Hualien. "Everyone's a bit tense", he said.
Another volunteer, Lin Hsin-hsuan, who came to help with two friends from neighbouring Yilan county, prepared soup and rice noodles for police officers and firefighters working in the cold rain early on Thursday morning at the Yun Men Tsui Ti building.
Rescuers worked their way around and through the building while residents looked on from behind cordoned-off roads. Rescue crews continue to search night and day for survivors. A dozen heavy steel girders propped up one of them, the Yunmen Cuiti building.
A Red Cross worker at the scene estimated that the building had tilted another five percent overnight, adding he had little hope of finding survivors on its lowest floors.
The building is reported to be Marshal Hotel in Hualien City, which has nearly 300 rooms.
"We discovered the body of a Chinese woman at the hotel in Yun Tsui (building) earlier this morning and located another person who's a hotel staffer", he said.
Taiwan sits at the intersection of the Philippine Sea tectonic plate, which is moving west at about 8cm a year, and the Eurasian plate, which extends east from mainland China. It is an area of frequent seismic activity, and earthquakes are common.
Aftershocks with a magnitude of at least 5.0 could rock the island in the next two weeks, the government said. "But then it got really terrifying", the worker, Chen Ming-hui, told Taiwan's official Central News Agency after he was reunited with his son and grandson following the quake.
Hualien is one of Taiwan's most popular tourist hubs as it lies on the picturesque east coast rail line and near the popular Taroko Gorge.
More than 90 weaker earthquakes were measured along Taiwan's east coast in the week before Tuesday's quake, the Central Weather Bureau reported.
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