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Taiwan rocked by strong earthquake that triggers tsunami warning


Image taken from a video footage of a woman standing near a partially collapsed building in Hualien, eastern Taiwan on April 3, 2024
| Photo Credit: AP

A powerful earthquake rocked the entire island of Taiwan early Wednesday, collapsing buildings in a southern city and creating a tsunami that washed ashore on southern Japanese islands.

A five-story building in lightly populated Hualien appeared heavily damaged, collapsing its first floor and leaving the rest leaning at a 45-degree angle. In the capital, Taipei, tiles fell from older buildings and within some newer office complexes.


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Train service was suspended across the island of 23 million people, as was subway service in Taipei. But things quickly returned to normal in the capital, with children going to school and the morning commute appearing to be normal.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said a tsunami wave of 30 cm (about 1 feet) was detected on the coast of Yonaguni island about 15 minutes after the quake struck. JAMA said waves likely also hit the coasts of Miyako and Yaeyama islands. Japan’s Self Defence Force sent aircraft to gather information about the tsunami impact around the Okinawa region and were preparing shelters for evacuees if necessary.

Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring agency gave the magnitude as 7.2 while the US Geological Survey put it at 7.4. It struck at 7:58 am about 18 km south-southwest of Hualien and was about 35 km (21 miles) deep.

The head of Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring bureau, Wu Chien-fu, said effects were detected as far away as Kinmen, a Taiwanese-controlled island off the coast of China. Multiple aftershocks were felt in Taipei in the hour after the initial quake.

The USGS said one of the subsequent quakes was 6.5 magnitude and 11.8 km deep.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said there was no tsunami threat to Hawaii or the US Pacific territory of Guam.

The quake was believed to be the biggest in Taiwan since a temblor in 1999 caused extensive damage. Taiwan lies along the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, the line of seismic faults encircling the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquake’s occur.



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