At least 1 dead in Taiwan’s strongest earthquake in 25 years

A 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck Wednesday off the coast of Taiwan, killing one person, injuring scores and collapsing dozens of buildings in the island’s most powerful tremor in at least 25 years.

The quake happened around 8 a.m. local time (8 p.m. Tuesday ET) at a depth of about 21 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was about 11 miles south-southwest of Hualien City on the island’s east coast.

At least one person died and more than 50 were injured, Reuters reported, citing Taiwan’s fire department.

The earthquake also prompted tsunami warnings in countries including Japan, which later lifted it. The U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that while national authorities might continue to issue their own information, “the tsunami threat from this earthquake has now passed.”

The fire department said at least 26 buildings had collapsed, most of them in the eastern county of Hualien, near the quake’s epicenter. It said it was working to rescue about 20 people who were trapped.

Video on social media showed one building that appeared to be nine stories tall partially collapsed and left standing at an angle. Another, appearing to have five floors, was similarly situated.

A damaged building in Hualien City, Taiwan, after an earthquake
A damaged building in Hualien City, Taiwan, after a 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck on Wednesday.TVBS via AP

The earthquake was felt in all parts of Taiwan, the island’s semiofficial Central News Agency reported. Metro systems in Taipei, the capital, as well as the cities of Taichung and Kaohsiung were temporarily suspended, the agency said.

The earthquake knocked out power for more than 87,000 households and was followed by a series of aftershocks, the biggest of which measured 6.5, according to Taiwan’s Central Weather Administration. The agency listed the magnitude of the initial earthquake as 7.2.

Seismology official Wu Chien-fu said it was Taiwan’s strongest earthquake since 1999, when a 7.6-magnitude tremor killed about 2,400 people.

Earlier Wednesday, officials in Japan issued a tsunami warning and evacuation order for coastal areas of the southern prefecture of Okinawa, warning of waves up to 3 meters (10 feet) high. As of late morning, the biggest wave reported was 30 centimeters (about 12 inches) on the Japanese island of Yonaguni, which is close to Taiwan.

A tsunami warning and evacuation order was also issued in parts of the Philippines.

Feelings of tremors were reported elsewhere in the region including by social media users in Fujian, a province on China’s southeast coast that sits across from Taiwan.

The USGS said the shaking from the initial quake would have been “very strong” in the Hualien area and strongly felt elsewhere.

A live camera on YouTube at Liyu Lake near Hualien that had been showing a peaceful, sunny scene began to violently shake at 7:58 a.m. local time.

Hualien City has a population of around 106,000 and is about 70 miles southeast of Taipei. The county has a population of around 340,000.

Taiwan is on the so-called Ring of Fire that circles the Pacific Basin and is known for earthquakes.

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