Taiwan’s strongest earthquake in nearly 25 years damages buildings, leaving 4 dead

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In this image taken from a video footage run by TVBS, residents rescue a child from a partially collapsed building in Hualien, eastern Taiwan on Wednesday, April 3, 2024.

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In this image taken from a video footage run by TVBS, residents rescue a child from a partially collapsed building in Hualien, eastern Taiwan on Wednesday, April 3, 2024.

Anonymous/AP

TAIPEI, Taiwan — A major earthquake struck Taiwan during the morning rush hour on Wednesday, collapsing buildings and triggering tsunami warnings in Japan and the Philippines.

At least four people have died and dozens more were injured due to the quake, officials said.

The quake hit near the eastern city of Hualien at 7:58am local time (2358 GMT) and had a magnitude of 7.4, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, making it the strongest quake to hit since 1999. The depth was about 35 kilometers (22 miles), which is considered shallow. Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring agency gave the magnitude as 7.2.

Strong shaking was felt in Taipei, the capital, some 100 miles away, with aftershocks continued for roughly two hours. And there were reports in China that people as far away as Shanghai, about 500 miles to the north, could feel the earthquake.

Images on television showed extensive damage, including buildings listing to the side after having been shaken off their foundations. The authorities suspended work and school in Hualien, an area with about 300,000 residents. Authorities also closed down eight power plants for safety, and 87,000 residents in Hualien, the epicenter, were without power, though electricity remains on for the rest of the island.

Bloomberg News reported that TSMC, the world’s leading maker of cutting edge microchips, evacuated production lines after the quake.


In this image taken from a video footage run by TVBS, a partially collapsed building is seen in Hualien, eastern Taiwan on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. A powerful earthquake rocked the entire island of Taiwan early Wednesday, collapsing buildings in a southern city and creating a tsunami that washed ashore on southern Japanese islands.

TVBS via AP


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In this image taken from a video footage run by TVBS, a partially collapsed building is seen in Hualien, eastern Taiwan on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. A powerful earthquake rocked the entire island of Taiwan early Wednesday, collapsing buildings in a southern city and creating a tsunami that washed ashore on southern Japanese islands.

TVBS via AP

Taiwan’s transportation authorities said train service was suspended island-wide, as well as subway service in Taipei. Videos from the epicenter show rockslides covering roads and houses that were knocked off-kilter.

Soon after, Japan’s Meteorological Agency forecast a tsunami of up to 3 meters (9.8 feet) for the southern Japanese island group of Okinawa. The Associated Press reports that a wave of 30 centimeters (about 1 feet) was detected on the coast of Yonaguni island about 15 minutes after the quake struck. JAMA said waves likely also hit the coasts of Miyako and Yaeyama islands.

The Philippines issued a tsunami warning strongly advising people in four coastal areas to evacuate to higher ground or move inland.

According to Taiwan media, the last earthquake of a magnitude 7 or greater to hit the island was the Sept. 21, 1999, “Jiji” earthquake that measured 7.3, which destroyed thousands of buildings and killed more than 2,400 people.

John Ruwitch contributed reporting from Beijing.

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