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Taiwan's Largest Earthquake In 25 Years Leaves 4 Dead, Hundreds Injured

Taiwan's Largest Earthquake In 25 Years Leaves 4 Dead, Hundreds Injured

03.04.2024 10:57

Public infrastructure damaged, while land routes to cities and towns in eastern part cutoff due to damaged roads and bridges.

At least four people were killed and hundreds of others injured after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck off Taiwan's eastern coast early Wednesday, according to local media.

Around 711 others were injured as search and rescue operations continued amid recurring aftershocks.

All four deaths were reported in the eastern Hualien county, while injuries were reported in several areas, including the capital Taipei, the official Focus Taiwan News reported.

The quake is the biggest to have hit the island nation in 25 years. Around 2,400 people were killed in 1999 when a 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan in the middle of the night.

President Tsai Ing-wen has ordered the military to be deployed in the affected areas.

Soldiers equipped with search and rescue tools besides debris-removing excavators were seen working in the affected areas.

The US Geological Survey announced that the epicenter of the quake was 18 kilometers (11 miles) south of the city of Hualien.

It said, "Casualties and damage are likely, but the impact should be relatively localized."

However, Taiwan's Central Weather Administration (CWA) put the magnitude of the earthquake at 7.2, saying it struck off the coast of Hualien county in eastern Taiwan at 7.58 a.m. Wednesday (2358GMT Tuesday).

It added that another earthquake of magnitude 6.5 jolted the island nation 13 minutes later.

Video footage from local media showed some buildings in the city collapsing due to the quake, which occurred at a depth of 34.8 kilometers (21 miles).

There are reports of people trapped in the collapsed buildings.

The CWA also issued a tsunami warning for the northern regions of the island after the quake, which also triggered landslides.

Metro lines in Taipei and the Taichung and Kaohsiung areas were affected, while people in coastal areas were preparing to be evacuated due to fears of high waves.

Some flights to and from Taiwan were also affected, while three injuries were reported at the Taoyuan International Airport Corporation, which also suffered some damage to terminal floors, walls, and sprinkler heads.

Schools in the affected areas also suspended classwork, and electricity in many areas was also affected.

Some cities and towns in Hualien were cut off due to damaged roads and bridges and people will have to rely on water transport for some time to reach their destination.

There are possibilities of recurring tremors over the next few days.

Taiwan's tech companies also evacuated thousands of people and a review process is ongoing. Any impact of the earthquake on the tech sector is likely to cause disruptions in chip supplies.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's Nuclear Safety Commission said the only active nuclear plant on the island was "operating as usual."

The earthquake triggered small tsunami waves that reached southwestern Japan, which has now lowered an alert over high waves.

"A small tsunami reached the islands of Yonaguni, Ishigaki and Miyako in Okinawa Prefecture," said the Japan Meteorological Agency, warning about the possibility of a larger tsunami.

Following the earthquake, China said it was "highly concerned."

Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, expressed "sincere condolences to the Taiwan compatriots affected by the disaster."

"We will pay close attention to the disaster and subsequent situations and are willing to provide disaster relief assistance," Zhu said.

The Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology also raised a tsunami warning over four areas in northern Luzon following the earthquake.

People in the Batanes group of islands, Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, and Isabela, were alerted about a possible tsunami and ordered to immediately evacuate to higher ground.

*Ahmet Faruk Mercan in Japan and Iclal Turan in Washington contributed to this report. -

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