Taiwan Earthquake: One dead, over 50 injured after strong quake, Tsunami Warning Issued


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 low tsunami that washed ashore on southern Japanese islands.

The tsunami threat then passed without much damage in Japan. The Japan Meteorological Agency downgraded its forecast from 3 meters (9.8 feet) to 1 meter (3.3 feet). One island had a wave of about 30 centimeters (a foot), while smaller waves were detected in other islands. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said there has been no report of injury or damage in Japan.

Also Read: How are earthquakes measured? 

A five-story building in Taiwan’s 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. Schools evacuated their students to sports fields, equipping them with protective yellow head coverings. Many small children also wore motorcycle helmets to guard against falling objects amid continuing aftershocks.

Train service was suspended across the island of 23 million people, as was subway service in Taipei, where a newly constructed above-ground line partially separated. The national legislature, a converted school built before World War II, also had damage to walls and ceilings.

Despite the quake striking at the height of the morning rush hour, there was little panic on the island that regularly is rocked by temblors and holds drills at schools and issues notices via public media and mobile phone. Schools and government offices were given the option of cancelling work and classes.

There was still no word on casualties in Hualien, where a deadly quake in 2018 collapsed a historic hotel and other buildings. Taiwan’s worst quake in recent years struck on September 21, 1999 with a magnitude of 7.7, causing 2,400 deaths, injuring around 100,000 and destroying thousands of buildings.

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

China issued no tsunami warnings for the Chinese mainland. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no tsunami threat to Hawaii or the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.


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