Major earthquake shakes Taiwan, causing landslides, partial building collapse

Major earthquake shakes Taiwan, causing landslides, partial building collapse
Major earthquake shakes Taiwan, causing landslides, partial building collapse
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Hualien/Taipei, April 3 (CNA) Two buildings in downtown Hualien City partially collapsed and tilted as a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit at 7:58 am Wednesday, including one in which the residents remain trapped.

Rescue operations are ongoing after local firefighters and police rushed to the scene on the intersection of Zhongshan and Chongqing roads.

Aftershocks have continued during the rescue process, causing nearby residents to flee their homes and stay outside.

Meanwhile, the 169-kilometer mark of the Chongde section on Provincial Highway 9 between Su’ao and Hualien was hit by a landslide, blocking traffic at the Chongde Railway Station.

Local policemen were at the scene to check on the severity of the disruption.

According to Taiwan Railways Corp., train services between Jiaoxi in Yilan County to the north of where the earthquake hit and Fenglin in Hualien County have been suspended due to the temblor.

Meanwhile, a pile of rocks fell on the Heren-Chongde section of the eastern railway line in Hualien, the railway company said, but there were no reports of casualties or damage to vehicles.

The Highway Bureau said at least nine locations on the Suhua Highway, also called the Suao-Hualien Highway, were hit by fallen rocks, forcing the temporary closure of the highway that winds along mountain cliffs.

In Hualien County, the government there announced that offices and schools would be closed for the day due to the potential for aftershocks following the magnitude 7.2 earthquake.

In terms of electricity, the state-run Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) said several electrical substations across Taiwan short-circuited when the earthquake struck, causing the power supply to be unstable.

Currently the system has been stabilized, Taipower said, noting that Taiwan’s nuclear power plants were operating normally.

According to Taipower, there were more than 300,000 households without power at one point, but it had been restored to over 70 percent of them by 9:30 am, when 87,132 households were still without power, it said.

The strong earthquake struck off the coast of Hualien County in eastern Taiwan at 7:58 am, with its epicenter located in the Pacific Ocean, 25.0 km south-southeast of Hualien County Hall, at a depth of 15.5 km, according to the Central Weather Administration’s Seismology Center.

The weather bureau said the strong quake has caused changes in water levels off the coast.

The earthquake’s intensity, which gauges the actual effect of a seismic event, was highest in Hualien, where it measured a 6+ on Taiwan’s 7-tier intensity scale, representing heavy shaking that makes it nearly impossible to remain standing.

(By Worthy Shen and Elizabeth Hsu)

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