Tsunami alert in Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines after “heaviest earthquake in 25 years” | Abroad

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updateTaiwan, Japan and the Philippines declared a tsunami alert on Wednesday morning local time after a major earthquake near Taiwan. According to Japan’s meteorological agency JMA, the quake struck at just before 8 a.m. in Taiwan (2 a.m. Belgian time). Nothing is yet known about any possible victims. The quake was also felt on mainland China, including in the metropolis of Shanghai, Chinese state media reported.

The quake occurred off the east coast of Taiwan at a depth of 15.5 kilometers. The Taiwan Meteorological Agency said the earthquake had a magnitude of 7.2. The Japanese Meteorological Institute first reported 7.5, but later adjusted this to 7.7, while the American Seismological Institute (USGS) speaks of a magnitude of 7.4.

Electricity was cut in large parts of Taiwan during the earthquake: around 87,000 households are still without power, network operator Taipower said. Buildings have collapsed or been damaged in the eastern city of Hualien, with people still trapped in the collapsed buildings, according to local media reports.

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A building partially collapsed in the eastern city of Hualien. © AP

According to eyewitnesses, the earthquake was also clearly felt in the Taiwanese capital Taipei, but no major damage has been reported there so far. However, an aftershock was felt in the capital a few hours later. Public transport has been stopped in various places on the island with 23 million inhabitants, as has train traffic on the high-speed lines. Taiwanese chip manufacturer TSMC has evacuated its business premises as a precaution.

According to the director of the Taipei Seismology Center, Wu Chien-fu, it is “the strongest earthquake in 25 years” on the island. “The earthquake was close to the coast and not deep. It was felt throughout Taiwan and the neighboring islands. It is the strongest quake in 25 years, since the 1999 earthquake,” Wu told the press. In September of that year, a magnitude 7.6 quake killed 2,400.

A building partially collapsed in the eastern city of Hualien. © AP

Tsunami hazard

A tsunami alert was declared for Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines after the quake. Japanese authorities report that a tsunami of 30 centimeters has already been observed around 9:30 am local time on the island of Yonaguni, which is located about 111 kilometers east of Taiwan. Later the waves also reached Ishigaki Island. Residents of the Okinawa Islands are urgently advised to evacuate to higher ground as waves of three meters or higher are possible in Okinawa. “Evacuate to higher ground, do not return,” said a presenter of the Japanese public channel ‘NHK’. Japan’s endangered islands include Miyakojima, home to about 45,000 people.

Air traffic at Naha Airport, Okinawa’s main airport, has been halted after the major earthquake. Air traffic was suspended as a precaution at 9:25 a.m. (2:25 a.m. Belgian time), an official from the Ministry of Transport said. The flights en route to the airport are diverted. Passengers at the airport were evacuated, Kyodo news agency reported.

Taiwan also issued a tsunami alert after the earthquake on the island’s east coast. “The earthquake could cause a tsunami that could hit Taiwan. A tsunami alert has been declared to urge residents of the coastal zones to be careful,” can be read in a warning message that the government sent to the Taiwanese.

Authorities in the Philippines are also warning of “high tsunami waves” and have called for the evacuation of coastal zones after the major earthquake near Taiwan. “It is strongly recommended that residents of the coastal municipalities in these provinces immediately evacuate to higher areas or move more inland,” said an advice from the national seismological institute for 23 provinces.

A building partially collapsed in the eastern city of Hualien.
A building partially collapsed in the eastern city of Hualien. © AP
A building partially collapsed in the eastern city of Hualien.
A building partially collapsed in the eastern city of Hualien. © AP
A building partially collapsed in the eastern city of Hualien.
A building partially collapsed in the eastern city of Hualien. © AP


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Tags: Tsunami alert Taiwan Japan Philippines heaviest earthquake years

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