Magnitude 7.2 earthquake hits Taiwan

Taiwan was shaken by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, the largest to hit the island in at least 25 years, killing at least four people, wounding dozens, and prompting a tsunami warning for southern Japan and the Philippines.

The earthquake, which struck about 8 a.m. local time (8 p.m. AST), jolted the island severely, causing building collapses in the southern city and triggering tsunami warnings for southern Japanese islands.

Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring agency reported a magnitude of 7.2 at the epicentre 18 kilometres (11 miles) south of Taiwan’s Hualien City. In contrast, the Japan Meteorological Agency and the US Geological Survey reported a magnitude of 7.5, with an estimated depth of 35 km.

Video video showed buildings in Hualien experiencing significant tremors, with one multi-story building, which housed both companies and residents, partially falling.

The earthquake also generated strong vibrations on a bridge, delaying people’s morning commutes by car and bicycle.

According to witnesses, aftershocks could still be felt in Taipei, with at least 25 aftershocks recorded by Taiwan’s central weather service.

The Taipei city government has received no complaints of damage, and the city’s MRT was back up and running shortly after, however energy provider Taipower said that more than 87,000 households in Taiwan were still without power.

Taiwan’s high-speed rail operator stated that no damage or injuries occurred on its trains, but trains will be delayed while checks are conducted.

According to Taiwan’s Central Weather Administration, the earthquake had the second-highest strength of an “Upper 6” in Hualien County on a scale of 1 to 7.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, most unreinforced concrete-block walls collapse in an Upper 6 earthquake, and individuals cannot stand or move without crawling.

In September 1999, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake hit Taiwan, killing 2,400 people and destroying 5,000 buildings. Taiwan lies along the Pacific Ring of Fire, a line of seismic faults where most earthquakes occur.

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