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Home > Taiwan Hit By Strongest Earthquake In 25 Years

Taiwan Hit By Strongest Earthquake In 25 Years

A 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan early on Wednesday morning, killing four people and injuring dozens in the strongest tremor to hit the island in at least 25 years.

Three people among a group of seven on an early-morning hike were crushed to death by boulders loosened by the earthquake, officials said.

Separately, a truck driver died when his vehicle was hit by a landslide as it approached a tunnel in the area.

The deaths all occurred in Hualien county, the epicentre of the quake.

The earthquake – which struck at 7.58am local time (12.58am UK) – was felt as far away as Shanghai, and reportedly triggered a landslide in eastern Taiwan.

Officials said the quake and series of aftershocks was the strongest to shake the island in decades and warned of more tremors in the days ahead.

“The earthquake is close to land and it’s shallow. It’s felt all over Taiwan and offshore islands,” said Wu Chien-fu, director of Taipei’s Central Weather Administration’s Seismology Center.

More than 60 people have been injured and thousands were urged to evacuate. Several buildings have collapsed, more than half in Hualien, with about 20 people trapped and rescue work ongoing.

Television images showed homes and offices in Hualien shaken off their foundations, while Taiwan’s electricity operator said 87,000 people across the country are without power.

The quake caused a tsunami, which had been predicted to be up to 3 metres (30ft) high and was expected to reach Japan’s southwestern Okinawa coast.

An alert was issued for the coastal areas of Japan near the southern prefecture of Okinawa, with residents told to leave urgently.

The waves that arrived were not as high as forecast, and the alert was downgraded to an advisory, though officials are still encouraging locals to stay away from the area.

A tsunami of about 0.3 metres (1ft) reached Yonaguni Island, in south-west Japan.

‘Evacuate! Do not stop. Do not go back’A banner on Japanese national broadcaster NHK told viewers to “Evacuate!”

“Tsunami is coming. Please evacuate immediately,” an anchor on NHK said. “Do not stop. Do not go back.”

The Philippines has also issued a tsunami warning to residents on northern coast, warning 23 provinces where it said “high tsunami waves” were expected to hit that “may continue for hours”.

Japan’s meteorological agency described the earthquake as very shallow, which can cause significant damage. It was measured at a magnitude of about 7.2 but this was revised up to 7.7 by the agency.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake’s epicentre was 11 miles (18km) south of Taiwan’s Hualien City at a depth of about 21 miles.

Live TV footage from the Okinawa region’s ports, including Naha, showed vessels heading out to sea, possibly in efforts to protect their ships.

Flights have been suspended at Naha airport in Okinawa.

‘Strongest earthquake in 25 years’Taiwan is regularly hit by earthquakes because the island lies near the junction of two tectonic plates.

The earthquake was “the strongest in 25 years”, according to Wu Chien-fu the director of Taipei’s Seismology Centre, referring to a 7.6-magnitude quake that hit Taiwan in September 1999, killing around 2,400 people in the deadliest natural disaster in the island’s history.

A five-story building in 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 during an aftershock.

The world’s largest producer of advanced chips, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, has evacuated some factory areas.

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.

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world’s most seismically active areas. Japan accounts for about one-fifth of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

The country was rocked by its deadliest quake in eight years on New Year’s Day when a 7.6-magnitude quake struck in Ishikawa prefecture, on the western coast. More than 230 people died in the quake that left 44,000 homes fully or partially destroyed.

On March 11, 2011, the northeast coast was struck by a magnitude 9 earthquake, the strongest quake in Japan on record, and a massive tsunami.

Those events triggered a nuclear accident at the Fukushima plant, the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl a quarter of a century earlier.