Taiwan: Hundreds injured in 'strongest quake in 25 years'

World Wednesday 03/April/2024 11:42 AM
By: DW
Taiwan: Hundreds injured in 'strongest quake in 25 years'

An earthquake in Taiwan has injured more than 700 people and killed at least seven, the island's government said on Wednesday.

Taiwan's Central Weather Administration (CWA) said a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck near the island on Wednesday morning.

It said the quake hit at a depth of 15.5 kilometers (9.6 miles) with the epicenter around 25 kilometers southeast of Hualien county.

The deaths all occurred in Hualien county,

Taiwanese broadcaster TVBS posted footage of a collapsed building. 

 The fire department was cited in reports that at least 26 buildings had collapsed with more than half of that number in the eastern county of Hualien.

Footage broadcast locally showed damaged buildings standing at precarious angles.

Authorities said that two German nationals were trapped in a tunnel in Taroko national park following the earthquake, but have so far given no details on the state of their health.

Quake 'the strongest in 25 years' — Taipei Seismology Centre

The director of Taipei's Seismology Centre, Wu Chien-fu, told reporters that the earthquake was "the strongest in 25 years."

"The earthquake is close to land and it's shallow. It's felt all over Taiwan and offshore islands ... it's the strongest in 25 years since the (1999) earthquake," Wu told reporters, referring to a September 1999 quake measuring 7.6-magnitude that killed 2,400 people.

"The public should pay attention to relevant warnings and messages and be prepared for earthquake evacuation," Wu warned.

Officials warned that there may be more tremors in the coming days.

Taiwan experiences regular seismic activity, as the island is situated close to the junction of two tectonic plates, while nearby Japan experiences around 1,500 jolts every year.

Japan downgrades tsunami warning

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) lifted an earlier tsunami warning for Japan's southern islands.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on messaging platform X, formerly Twitter, that his country was ready to provide Taiwan with any necessary assistance.

Calling Taiwan Japan's "neighbour across the sea," he said he was deeply saddened by news of the earthquake.

In March, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck the main Japanese island of Honshu. It triggered a tsunami that disabled the power supply that cooled three reactors at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant, triggering a nuclear disaster. Around 18,500 people were killed or missing presumed dead.

The Philippines had also issued warnings of "high tsunami waves" and called for the evacuation of coastal areas.

The country's seismology agency later canceled the tsunami warning.