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Taiwan hit by strongest quake in 25 years, buildings damaged

Taiwan hit by strongest quake in 25 years, buildings damaged

Wednesday, April 03, 2024, 09:42 GMT+7
Taiwan hit by strongest quake in 25 years, buildings damaged
A view of a damaged apartment in New Taipei City, Taiwan April 3, 2024. Photo: Reuters

TAIPEI -- A 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked Taiwan on Wednesday, the strongest tremor to hit the island in at least 25 years, shaking buildings from their foundations and sparking a tsunami warning for the islands of southern Japan and the Philippines.

Taiwan television stations showed footage of buildings at precarious angles in the sparsely populated eastern county of Hualien, near the quake's epicentre.

Local media said some people were trapped, but there were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries.

The quake, which knocked out power in several parts of the capital Taipei, hit at 07:58 a.m. (2358 GMT) at a depth of 15.5km (9.6 miles) just off the eastern coast of Taiwan, according to Taiwan's Central Weather Administration.

Japan's weather agency said several small tsunami waves reached parts of the southern prefecture of Okinawa, and later downgraded the earlier tsunami warning to an advisory. It revised the magnitude to 7.7.

The Philippines Seismology Agency also issued a warning for residents in coastal areas of several provinces, urging them to evacuate to higher ground.

The quake was felt in Shanghai, a Reuters witness said. Chinese state media said it was also felt in Fuzhou, Xiamen, Quanzhou and Ningde in China's Fujian province.

Aftershocks could still be felt in Taipei, according to a Reuters witness, with at least 25 aftershocks registered so far, according to Taiwan's central weather administration.

China Earthquake Networks Center recorded five aftershocks of around 5 magnitude in Taiwan within an hour after the initial quake.

The Taipei city government has not received any reports of damage and the city's MRT was up and running soon after, while electricity operator Taipower said more than 87,000 households in Taiwan were still without power.

Taiwan's high speed rail operator said no damage or injuries were reported on its trains, but noted trains will be delayed while it carries out inspections.

Southern Taiwan Science Park, where semiconductor giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co has a plant, said companies were operating without impact.

A view from behind a window as debris falls from a building, during an earthquake just off the eastern coast of Taiwan, according to Taiwan's Central Weather Administration, in New Taipei City, Taiwan, April 3, 2024, in this still image obtained from a social media video. Photo: Reuters

A view from behind a window as debris falls from a building, during an earthquake just off the eastern coast of Taiwan, according to Taiwan's Central Weather Administration, in New Taipei City, Taiwan, April 3, 2024, in this still image obtained from a social media video. Photo: Reuters

TSMC said its safety systems are operating normally.

"To ensure the safety of personnel, some fabs were evacuated according to company procedure. We are currently confirming the details of the impact," according to the company.

Shares of TSMC were down 1.4 percent in early trade, while Apple supplier Foxconn's stock fell more than two percent and shares of flat panel maker Au Optronics dropped 1.7 percent.

Taiwan's official central news agency said the quake was the biggest to hit the island since 1999 when a 7.6 magnitude tremor killed around 2,400 people and destroyed or damaged 50,000 buildings in one of Taiwan's worst-recorded quakes.

Taiwan's Central Weather Administration said the earthquake registered the second-highest intensity of an "Upper 6" in Hualien county, on the 1-7 intensity scale.

In an Upper 6 earthquake, most unreinforced concrete-block walls collapse and people find it impossible to remain standing or move without crawling, the Japan Meteorological Agency says.

Reuters

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