Taiwan hit by worst earthquake in 25 years

Taiwan recently experienced its most powerful earthquake in a quarter-century, claiming the lives of four individuals and injuring at least 50 others. The quake, with a magnitude of 7.7 according to Japan’s meteorological agency, struck near Hualien, a popular tourist destination on the eastern coast of Taiwan. The aftermath included building collapses, power outages, and landslides, prompting initial tsunami warnings in southern Japan and the Philippines.

Footage circulated on social media showed harrowing scenes of children being rescued from collapsed residential structures. The impact was starkly visible, with one five-storey building in Hualien sustaining heavy damage, including a collapsed first floor and significant leaning. Rescue efforts were hindered by subsequent aftershocks, compounding the challenges faced by responders.

Reports indicated that individuals and vehicles were trapped in the Dachingshui tunnel, while train lines suffered damage, and schools and businesses shuttered across affected areas. Witnesses recounted scenes of rocks cascading down nearby mountains as they navigated through the chaos, while in Taipei, the capital, incidents of building damage were reported, including a partially collapsed warehouse and falling tiles.

Despite Japan’s measurement of 7.7 magnitude, Taiwan’s own monitoring agency registered the quake at 7.2, marking it as the strongest tremor since 1999, when a 7.6-magnitude quake caused significant casualties. TSMC, Taiwan’s prominent semiconductor manufacturer, had to halt production temporarily due to safety concerns.

Following the initial quake, over 15 aftershocks, though decreasing in intensity, were reported by Taiwan’s CST. Damage was observed in central Taipei, with the Howard Plaza hotel exhibiting visible signs of structural impact. Witnesses, including foreign guests, described the quake’s intensity, expressing astonishment at its force.

While initial tsunami warnings in Japan were downgraded, concerns remained high, with the possibility of aftershocks resembling those felt in Taiwan. The Philippines issued and later lifted a tsunami warning for coastal areas, citing the threat of “high tsunami waves.” This event serves as a stark reminder of the region’s vulnerability to seismic activity, particularly following recent disasters in Japan and the Philippines.

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