Dead and dozens injured after major earthquake near Taiwan

Dead and dozens injured after major earthquake near Taiwan
Dead and dozens injured after major earthquake near Taiwan
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According to the Japanese meteorological agency JMA, the earthquake struck off the east coast of Taiwan at just before 8 a.m. in Taiwan and at just before 9 a.m. in Japan (2 a.m. Belgian time).

According to the Taiwan fire brigade, one person died and more than fifty people were injured in the major earthquake.

Three people were injured when a warehouse collapsed in the northern city of New Taipei, several media reported.

In Hualien, a city near the epicenter of the quake, two buildings collapsed, fire officials said. According to local media, people are trapped under the rubble and rescue operations are underway. Television channel TVBS also reported that the earthquake caused landslides in Hualien district.

There is also damage elsewhere in the country.

Hualien. — © AP

According to witnesses, the earthquake was also clearly felt in the capital Taipei.

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

The earthquake occurred at a depth of 15.5 kilometers. The Taiwan Meteorological Agency said the earthquake had a magnitude of 7.2. The Japan Meteorological Agency reported a magnitude of 7.7, while the US Seismological Institute (USGS) said it was 7.4.

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Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and Premier Chen Chien-jen are expected in the city of New Taipei in the morning. According to the Kyodo news agency, the president has already stated that the army can be deployed in severely affected areas.

Public transport has been shut down in various places on the island with 23 million inhabitants. More than 87,000 people are without power and the internet has been interrupted in various locations. Taiwanese chip manufacturer TSMC has evacuated its business premises in the city of Hsinchu as a precaution.

Air traffic at Japan’s Naha Airport, the main airport in Okinawa Prefecture, was halted on Wednesday. This happened at 9:25 am (2:25 am Belgian time) as a precaution, an official from the Ministry of Transport reported. Flights heading to the airport are diverted. Passengers at the airport were evacuated, Kyodo news agency reported.

Tsunami alarms

A tsunami alert was in effect for hours in Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines. The JMA declared a tsunami alert for the Okinawa Islands, in southwestern Japan. Waves of 3 meters or higher were possible in Okinawa, public broadcaster NHK said. “Evacuate to higher ground, do not return,” said a presenter from the channel.

Kyodo News Agency reported a tsunami of 30 centimeters near Yonaguni Island, in the south of the country, with waves also reaching Ishigaki Island.

Taiwan also declared a tsunami alert after the earthquake on the east coast of the island. “The earthquake could cause a tsunami that could hit Taiwan. A tsunami alert has been declared to urge residents of coastal areas to exercise caution,” read a warning message sent by the government to the Taiwanese.

Hualien.

Hualien. — © AP

There were also warnings about tsunamis in the Philippines. “Coastal areas in the Philippines on the Pacific Ocean are expected to experience high tsunami waves. It is strongly recommended that residents of the coastal municipalities in these provinces immediately evacuate to higher areas or move more inland,” said an advisory from the national seismological institute for 23 provinces. “The first tsunami waves are forecast to arrive between 8:33 am and 10:33 am. They may not be the largest and these waves can last for hours.”

The tsunami alarms were lifted around 4:20 a.m. Belgian time.

A landslide in Xiulin, eastern Taiwan.

A landslide in Xiulin, eastern Taiwan. — © AFP

© AFP

© AFP

© Wang via REUTERS

© REUTERS

© AP

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