Helicopters continued on Saturday April 6 to evacuate dozens of tourists trapped for four days by landslides in a mountain range in the east of the island of Taiwan, shaken by a powerful earthquake which left at least thirteen dead, according to a new assessment of the Taiwanese authorities.

Taiwanese authorities have revised the number of victims upwards after recovering three bodies located the day before on a hiking trail.

More than 600 people remained stranded in tunnels or areas cut off by landslides, while relief workers delivered food by helicopter to many isolated residents, according to the national disaster agency.

Hualien, a city of 100,000 inhabitants on the eastern coast, epicenter of the earthquake, has suffered more than 300 aftershocks since Wednesday, including a 5.2 magnitude tremor on Saturday morning.

Helicopters increased their rotations on Saturday to shelter tourists trapped in Taroko National Park, a mountain range whose famous gorges attract hikers.

Eighty-four buildings “severely damaged”

During the morning, one aircraft was able to evacuate twelve people, while a second helicopter sheltered sixteen others. “Priority is given to the elderly and frail, women, children and people suffering from chronic illnesses,” announced the Taiwanese news site ETtoday.

“Even though they were tired when they returned from the mountain, everyone had a smile on their face,” according to the same site. An airbridge linking a luxury hotel, where more than 400 tourists and employees remained trapped after the earthquake, has been set up.

Helicopters also delivered food to isolated people, including a group of students, teachers and residents stranded in an inaccessible elementary school.

Elsewhere, rescuers worked to clear roads and tunnel entrances blocked by huge blocks of stone. “The rescuers are not giving up,” said Taiwan Vice President-elect Hsiao Bi-khim, calling them “true heroes of a resilient Taiwan.”

According to a preliminary report from the National Earthquake Engineering Research Center released Friday, 84 buildings were “seriously damaged” by the earthquake, most of them in Hualien County, located about 100 kilometers southeast of the capital, Taipei.