Taiwan Hit By Strongest Earthquake Of 7.3 Magnitude In 25 Years

Taipei: At least one person was feared dead and over 50 injured after a 7.3-magnitude quake struck the east coast of Taiwan at 7.58 am on Wednesday, damaging dozens of buildings and prompting tsunami warnings that extended to Japan and the Philippines before being lifted.

The quake’s epicentre, was in waters about 25 km (15.5 miles) south of the eastern county of Hualien and 138 km from Taipei. “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.

It was the strongest tremor to hit the island in at least 25 years. “The quake was the strongest since 7.6-magnitude struck in September 1999, killing around 2,400 people in the deadliest natural disaster in the island’s history,” AFP quoted him as saying.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) put the epicentre 18 km (11 miles) south of Taiwan’s Hualien City, at a depth of 34.8 km. It was followed by two aftershocks of 6.0-magnitude and 5.9-magnitude at 8.11 am and 8.35 am respectively, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC).

According to local media reports, strong tremors were felt in various parts of Taiwan, prompting Taipei’s metro system to halt operations for 40 to 60 minutes. Students in Taipei were also evacuated. Vehicles were hit by falling rocks after a landslide occurred in the Hualien area.

Taiwan’s TVBS News also reported that many houses have collapsed in Hualien county.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning for Miyako Island and the main island of Okinawa around 8 am, with waves expected to reach 3 metres high, but by around 10 am (0200 GMT), the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the threat had “largely passed”.

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