Seven die as ‘strongest’ earthquake in 25 years hits Taiwan

Earthquake jolts Taiwan
The strongest earthquake in 25 years jolts Taian. Photo Courtesy: Screengrab from viral video

At least seven people died and 736 others were hurt as an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter Scale hit Taiwan on Wednesday, the strongest experienced by the region in the past 25 years.

The quake struck just off the coast of Hualien County at around 7:58am, triggering shock and tension across the area with videos and images of the destruction caused by it now circulating across social media platforms.

Several buildings collapsed in Taiwan with several people believed to be trapped under rubble.

Operations are going on to rescue the trapped people, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said.

“The earthquake is close to land and it’s shallow. It’s felt all over Taiwan and offshore islands… It’s the strongest in 25 years,” Wu Chien Fu, the director of Taipei’s Seismology Centre told BBC.

The National Fire Agency told the British media that three have died at a trail around Taroko National Park, named after a landmark gorge just outside Hualien.

“Disaster response is underway following this morning’s 7.2 earthquake and aftershocks. I’m deeply grateful for the messages of support we have received from around the world, and to our first responders for their life-saving work,” the President posted on X.

Ocean Tsai, who lives in Hualien, said the earthquake was initially not very intense.

The shaking at first had not been too intense, he told the BBC.

But then suddenly, in the middle and later stages, “it became violent”, he said.

“I was just getting out of bed when a clothes rack and a low cabinet fell over,” he said.

“It kept getting stronger, and I started worrying about our belongings at home. Fortunately, apart from the motorcycle tipping over, the damage was minimal,” he said.

Another local said the intensity of the quake was strong enough to leave him scared.

“I was really scared, I felt my legs were not in my control anymore and could not walk out. Thanks to my colleagues, they dragged me so we could get out,” Chiu-yueh Hs, who works as an office worker at a restaurant, told BBC.

Tsunami advisory lifted for Japan’s Okinawa islands

Japan’s weather agency on Wednesday lifted a tsunami advisory issued for islands of the southern Okinawa prefecture, with the prefecture’s main Naha airport resuming operations, Xinhua reports.

Operations at the Naha airport were resumed after the tsunami advisory was lifted, its operator said. The airport is located on the coast of the main island of the prefecture.

China’s authorities lift Tsunami warning issued after earthquakes hit off Taiwan

The Chinese Ministry of Natural Resources lifted a tsunami warning on Wednesday that was issued after a series of powerful earthquakes hit the eastern coast of Taiwan, China Central Television (CCTV) reported.

Earlier on Wednesday, the ministry issued a level 1 tsunami alert, or red alert—the highest of four levels in China—following the earthquakes off Taiwan, Xinhua reported.

Strongest earthquake in 25 years

In 1999, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake hit Taiwan and left 2.400 people dead and 5,000 buildings damaged.