The strongest earthquake in 25 years hits Taiwan: at least 7 dead, more than 700 injured | Abroad

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updateA powerful earthquake struck off Taiwan’s east coast on Wednesday, killing at least seven people and injuring more than 700. There are still 77 people in custody. The earthquake had a magnitude of 7.4. Hualien, the city closest to the epicenter, appears to be the hardest hit. Rescue work is currently underway in several places. The earthquake was felt as far away as China.

LOOK. Collapsed buildings and falling boulders: images show devastation in Taiwan

The earthquake was felt just before 8 a.m. (2 a.m. Belgian time). The country often shakes, but according to seismologists, last night’s earthquake was the strongest in 25 years. It was felt as far away as the mountainous interior of the island.

The earthquake is close to land and is shallow. It is being felt across Taiwan and the offshore islands… It is the strongest in 25 years

Wu Chien Fu, director of Taipei Seismological Center

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

Seven dead, more than 700 injured

The Taiwanese fire brigade reports that seven people were killed, but that number is likely to rise. One of the victims was crushed by falling rocks in Hualien, which is about 200 kilometers south of the capital Taipei. About 100,000 people live there.

In addition, more than 700 people were injured. At least 26 buildings have collapsed, more than half of them in the city of Hualien, where about 20 people are still trapped under the rubble. Rescue work is in full swing.

People are rescued from a partially collapsed building in the eastern city of Hualien.
People are rescued from a partially collapsed building in the eastern city of Hualien. © AP

In the capital Taipei, images on local media show collapsed homes and people being evacuated from homes and schools. Other images show destroyed vehicles and damaged supermarkets. Electricity has failed in large parts of the island: around 87,000 households are still without power, network operator Taipower said. The country’s two nuclear power plants were not affected by the quake.

Tsunami danger has passed

There were brief fears of a tsunami in Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines, but that danger has now passed. Two hours after the quake, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported in an update that the tsunami threat had passed.

Public transport has been shut down in various places on the island with 23 million inhabitants. Air traffic at Japan’s Naha Airport, the main airport in Okinawa Prefecture, was also halted. The flights en route to the airport were diverted and the passengers at the airport were evacuated.

Chipmaker TSMC, the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer, with customers including Apple and Nvidia, has idled some production machines and evacuated staff from certain areas after the earthquake near Taiwan. The company said it still needs to investigate the precise impact of the quake.

TSMC’s smaller Taiwanese peer, United Macroelectronics, has also halted some production lines and evacuated certain facilities in Hsinchu and Tainan.

“No emergency notification”

Emily Feng, correspondent for the news organization NPR in Taipei, talks about a “faltering emergency alarm system”. Only a few people are said to have received a notification from the system that warns of earthquakes. “I certainly haven’t received one, so people are trying to figure out what on earth happened to this alarm system,” Feng told the BBC.

She added that many people in Taipei are currently returning to their homes and the mood is generally calm as citizens “are prepared for this” and are used to earthquakes.

Help China

China offered Taiwan assistance in rescue efforts on Wednesday morning, a spokeswoman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said. It is not yet clear whether Taiwan will accept the aid. Relations between the two countries are tense as China views Taiwan as part of its territory.



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In September 1999, Taiwan was hit by a magnitude 7.6 earthquake. 2,400 people were killed and 5,000 buildings were destroyed.

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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