Taiwan’s strongest earthquake in 25 years leaves at least four dead and scores injured

Wednesday, April 3, 2024
 – A 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked Taiwan on Wednesday, the strongest tremor to hit the island in at least 25 years, prompting mainland China, Japan, and the Philippines to issue tsunami warnings.

Taiwan’s government said four people had died in the mountainous, sparsely populated eastern county of Hualien near where the epicentre was, with 711 injured.

The fire department said 77 people remained trapped, some in collapsed buildings in Hualien.

The 7.3 magnitude quake toppled at least 26 buildings and left others tilting, particularly close to the epicentre in the eastern county of Hualien.

The earthquake was the strongest to hit Taiwan since 1999 when a 7.6 magnitude quake left 2,400 people dead and 50,000 buildings damaged.

A small tsunami also hit southern Japanese islands following the earthquake.

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said there has been no report of injury or damage in the country. He urged the residents in the Okinawa region to stay on high ground until all tsunami advisories are lifted.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s biggest producer of advanced microchips, partially shut down its operations after Wednesday’s earthquake. Three other semiconductor factories also temporarily halted parts of their operations.

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

The self-governing island off the southern coast of China is the focus of geopolitical tension between Washington and Beijing, which wants Taiwan to reunify with the mainland.

Following the earthquake, Taipei resident Hsien-hsuen Keng said: “Earthquakes are a common occurrence, and I’ve grown accustomed to them. But today was the first time I was scared to tears by an earthquake. I was awakened by the earthquake. I had never felt such intense shaking before.”

She said her fifth-floor apartment shook so hard that “apart from earthquake drills in elementary school, this was the first time I had experienced such a situation”.

Wu Chien-fu, the head of Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring bureau, said effects were detected as far away as Kinmen, a Taiwanese-controlled island off the coast of China.

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