9 Killed, More than 1,000 Injured in Taiwan’s Strongest Earthquake – 2024-04-09 03:43:34

A powerful earthquake rocks Taiwan, killing at least nine people and injuring more than 1,000 others. (AFP)

AT LEAST nine people were killed and more than 1,000 injured Wednesday in a powerful earthquake in Taiwan, which damaged dozens of buildings and triggered tsunami warnings as far away as Japan and the Philippines before they were lifted.

Dozens of people are believed to be safe but unreachable in areas cut off by massive landslides triggered by the earthquake.

Officials said the earthquake was the strongest to shake the island in 25 years, while warning of further shaking in the coming days.

Strict building regulations and widespread public disaster awareness appear to have prevented a major disaster for the earthquake-prone island, which lies close to the junction of two tectonic plates.

“We are very lucky,” said a woman named Chang, who lives next to a printing warehouse near the capital that was nearly destroyed in the earthquake. All 50 people on board at the time were rescued.

“A lot of home decorations fell to the floor, but people survived.”

Also read: 4 people killed by earthquake in Taiwan

Wu Chien-fu, director of the Seismology Center of the Taipei Central Weather Administration, said the earthquake was the strongest since a 7.6-magnitude earthquake in September 1999, which killed about 2,400 people in the most powerful natural disaster in the island’s history.

Wednesday’s magnitude 7.4 earthquake occurred just before 8:00 a.m. local time (0000 GMT), with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) placing the epicenter 18 kilometers (11 miles) south of Hualien City in Taiwan, at a depth of 34.8 kilometers.

Three people among a group of seven who were doing a morning hike in the hills surrounding the city were killed by boulders dislodged by the earthquake, officials said.

Also read: 1 person estimated dead, dozens injured in strongest earthquake in Taiwan

Separately, three people died while driving when their vehicle was hit by falling rocks, while another person died in a rock quarry.

The National Fire Administration said all the deaths were in Hualien county, adding that 1,011 people across Taiwan were injured without specifying how serious they were.

Landslides, Building Collapses

Social media was filled with videos and images shared from across the island of buildings swaying as the earthquake struck.

Also read: Taiwan Earthquake Victims Continue to Increase

“The building shook violently, the paintings on the walls, the TV and my drinks cupboard fell,” a man in Hualien told broadcaster SET TV.

Dramatic images were shown on local TV of multi-story structures in Hualien and other places tilting after the quake ended, while a printing warehouse in New Taipei City collapsed.

The mayor there said more than 50 survivors had been evacuated from the wreckage of the structure.

Also read: Japanese earthquake death toll rises to 84 people and 51 missing

Local TV channels showed bulldozers clearing rocks along the main route into Hualien, a coastal county surrounded by mountains with a population of about 300,000 people cut off by landslides.

The main road leading to the main city of Hualien through a series of tunnels was under construction and officials said dozens of people may have been trapped in vehicles inside.

Dozens of miners were also unreached at a stone quarry in Hualien.

Also read: More than 100 people died in an earthquake in Gansu, China

“We must check carefully how many people are trapped and we must rescue them quickly,” President-elect and Vice President Lai Ching-te told reporters in Hualien.

As of dusk, the district was still experiencing rolling aftershocks as rescuers continued to comb through the rubble.

In Taiwan’s capital, the famous commercial building Taipei 101 was lit up in memory of the earthquake victims.

Also read: Latest 6.9 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Southern Philippines

“Don’t go to the mountains unless necessary,” warned President Tsai Ing-wen in a late-night post.

“Aftershocks are possible in the coming days and everyone, please be alert and pay attention to your own safety.”

Regional Impact

In Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines, authorities initially issued tsunami warnings but at around 10:00 am (0200 GMT), the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the threat had “largely passed”.

Also read: Pakistan, Afghanistan and India rocked by 6.5 magnitude earthquake

In Taiwan’s capital, subway trains briefly stopped running but resumed within an hour, while residents received warnings from their local village heads to check for gas leaks.

Across the Taiwan Strait, social media users in China’s eastern Fujian province and elsewhere said they also felt strong shaking.

Hong Kong residents also reported feeling the earthquake.

Also read: Death toll from Türkiye earthquake reaches 284 people

China, which claims self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory, is “paying close attention” to the earthquake and is “willing to provide disaster relief assistance”, state news agency Xinhua said.

In Washington, the White House said the United States was ready to provide “necessary assistance” following the disaster.

Production at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company — the world’s largest chipmaker — was briefly disrupted at several plants, a company official told AFP, while work at construction sites for new factories was halted for the day.

The company later said in a statement that “a small number of tools were damaged at certain facilities, some impacting their operations” but that no “critical tools” were damaged.

The company said it was deploying “all available resources for full recovery, and affected facilities are expected to resume production through the night.” (AFP/Z-3)

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