Taiwan earthquake news today: Biggest earthquake in 25 years as 3m tsunami wave warnings issued

At least nine people were killed and over 700 injured in Taiwan’s biggest earthquake in more than two decades, prompting authorities across the region to issue tsunami warnings.

Taiwan’s monitoring agency measured the earthquake at magnitude 7.2, while the US Geological Survey put it at 7.4. It struck at 7.58am local time, about 18km south-southwest of Hualien city at a depth of 35km.

Videos showed people experiencing violent shaking across Taiwan and there appears to be extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure. Multiple buildings in Hualien, a relatively sparsely populated city that’s popular with tourists, appeared heavily damaged, with photographs showing nine-storey buildings leaning at a 45-degree angle.

A partially collapsed building is seen in Hualien


At least 77 people were trapped in buildings or under the debris of the partially collapsed structure, the Taiwanese government said on Wednesday afternoon. A dozen people were rescued from a building in New Taipei City after its foundations sank into the ground.

“Today was the first time I was scared to tears by an earthquake,” a Taipei resident, who was sleeping in her fifth-floor apartment,” told the Associated Press. “I was awakened by the earthquake. I had never felt such intense shaking before.”

Three hikers died due to falling rocks at the Dekalun Trail in Taroko National Park in Hualien. The fourth person has been identified as a truck driver, who died after rocks crushed his vehicle near a tunnel.

The effects of the earthquake were felt in mainland China and as far away as Taiwanese-controlled islands off the coast of China, said Wu Chien-fu, the head of Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring bureau.

Multiple aftershocks, one measuring 6.5 magnitude near Hualien, were also felt in the capital Taipei, the weather agency said.

Rescuers work at the partially collapsed building after a powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake rocked the entire island

(VCG via Getty Images)

Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines have issued tsunami warnings, with waves as high as three metres initially expected to slam the remote Japanese island group of Okinawa.

Authorities in Taiwan issued warnings through text messages to “remind people in coastal areas to be vigilant and take strict precautions and pay attention to the dangers caused by sudden surges in waves”.

Damaged apartment following earthquake, in New Taipei City


Japan’s Self Defence Force has sent planes to the area to gather information about the tsunami impact around the Okinawa region, and said it was preparing shelters for evacuation, if necessary.

Japan later downgraded the tsunami advisory, reducing the height of waves expected to one metre. The first tsunami waves of at least 30 centimetres arrived at Yonaguni Island at 9.18 am local time, authorities said.

All tsunami warnings were eventually lifted.

A red building is partially collapsed after a powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake rocked Taiwan

(VCG via Getty Images)

All flight operations have been suspended at Naha airport in Okinawa following the tsunami warning.

The Philippine government has asked people in coastal areas to immediately evacuate to higher ground as the islands brace for “high tsunami waves”. Villagers in Batanes, Cagayan, Ilocos Norte and Isabela were asked not to return to their homes until the tsunami alert was lifted.

High-speed rail services across Taiwan’s main island were suspended following the quake, as was the subway network in Taipei. But witnesses said things quickly returned to normal in the capital, with children going to school and the morning commute continuing.

“I wanted to run out but I wasn’t dressed. That was so strong,” Kelvin Hwang, a guest at a downtown hotel, told AFP.

People gathering in the lobby of the Taipei 101 office building in Taipei

(CNA/AFP via Getty Images)

The island’s national legislature, a converted school built before the Second World War, had damage to walls and ceilings.

Schools evacuated their students to sports fields, equipping them with yellow safety helmets. Some also covered themselves with textbooks to guard against falling objects as aftershocks continued.

Traffic along the east coast was brought to a virtual standstill, with landslides and falling debris hitting tunnels and highways in the mountainous region.

An employee clears broken bottles on the floor of a supermarket in Yilan, after a major earthquake hit Taiwan.

(CNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen has offered condolences and pressed soldiers into the rescue and recovery effort. “The national army will provide support in response to the needs of local governments to ensure the safety of people’s lives and property,” she said on Facebook.

Speaking about the ongoing aftershocks, the chief of Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring bureau said there was a chance that “there will be earthquakes with magnitude of 6.5 to 7 in three days which will be relatively close to the land”.

“The public should pay attention to relevant warnings and messages and be prepared for earthquake evacuation,” Mr Wu said.

hree batches and three sorties of C-130 aircraft to carry out disaster relief operations

(Anadolu via Getty Images)

Mainland China, which considers the self-governed island to be part of its sovereign territory, said it was highly concerned at reports of the earthquake and was willing to provide disaster relief assistance, according to Chinese state media. Such an offer is unlikely to be accepted, given the frought relations between the island and the mainland.

Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida said he was “deeply saddened” by the earthquake and offered “to provide any assistance necessary”.

Wednesday’s quake is the largest to hit Taiwan since one in 1999 caused extensive damage and killed around 2,400 people.

Taiwan lies along the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, the line of seismic faults encircling the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquakes occur.

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