Taiwan's strongest earthquake in 25 years kills nine, tsunami warnings lifted

Taiwan's strongest earthquake in 25 years kills nine, tsunami warnings lifted

By abc.net.au
Thursday 04/04/2024
Rescue workers search for survivors in the ruins of a building in New Taipei City.(AFP: Central News Agency)

Authorities say nine people, including three hikers, have been killed as a result of a magnitude-7.5 earthquake that struck the east coast of Taiwan on Wednesday morning.

Dozens of people were being slowly freed after being trapped by debris, rescue workers said, with about 60 of those caught in a tunnel just north of the city of Hualien.

Taiwan’s national fire agency said 64 people were trapped in one rock quarry, and six in another.

Authorities also said they had lost contact with 50 people who had been aboard four minibuses heading to a hotel in the Taroko Gorge national park.

The three hikers were killed by a rockslide in that same national park.

The Taiwanese government said more than 900 people were injured in the quake.

The quake and aftershocks also caused 24 landslides and damage to 35 roads, bridges and tunnels.

Japan and the Philippines have now lifted all tsunami warnings and advisories triggered by the quake.

The earthquake hit at 7:58am (local time) at a depth of 15.5 kilometres, according to Taiwan's Central Weather Administration.

Large earthquake hits Taiwan

Reuters news agency is reporting that Japan's Meteorological Agency has revised up the earthquake from a magnitude 7.5 to 7.7.

Earlier, Reuters reported the earthquake had a magnitude of 7.2.

Meanwhile, the United States Geological Survey were reporting it was a 7.5-magnitude earthquake before downgrading it to a 7.4.

Taiwan's earthquake monitoring agency put it at 7.2.

The quake knocked out power in several parts of Taiwan's capital Taipei, affecting 87,000 homes.

At least 26 buildings have collapsed — more than half in Hualien — with 22 people rescued from one severe case and only one missing, the fire department said.

The Central Weather Agency said it was the most powerful earthquake the island has experienced in 25 years, and numerous powerful aftershocks have been recorded.

Taiwan's air force said six F-16 fighter jets had been slightly damaged at a major base in the city from which jets are often scrambled to see off incursions by China's air force, but it expected the aircraft to return to service very soon.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong shared her condolences on X and said she didn't believe any Australians were harmed.

"DFAT officials in Taipei and Tokyo are working with authorities but at this stage aren't aware of any Australians affected."

'Scared to tears'

Despite the quake striking at the height of the morning rush, the initial panic faded quickly on the island, which is regularly rocked by temblors and prepares residents through drills at schools and notices issued via public media and mobile phones.

“Earthquakes are a common occurrence, and I’ve grown accustomed to them," Taipei resident Hsien-hsuen Keng told AP.

But this was the first time she was "scared to tears" by an earthquake, she said.

”I was awakened by the earthquake.

"I had never felt such intense shaking before.”

She said her fifth-floor apartment shook so hard that "apart from earthquake drills in elementary school, this was the first time I had experienced such a situation".

Tsunami warnings pass

The Japanese Meteorological Agency said the earthquake struck at a very shallow depth, making the impact worse.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said a tsunami wave of 30 centimetres was detected on the coast of Yonaguni island, about 15 minutes after the quake struck.

Smaller waves were measured in Ishigaki and Miyako islands.

Japan sent military aircraft to gather information about the impact around the Okinawa region.

Flights were suspended at Japan's main airport in Okinawa from 9:25am (local time) as a precautionary measure, a transport ministry official stationed at Naha Airport said.

The quake was felt in Fuzhou, Xiamen, Quanzhou and Ningde in China's Fujian province, according to Chinese state media.

Original Story link: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-04-03/tsunami-warning-issued-in-japan-after-earthquake/103661984

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