At least 9 dead, hundreds injured in Taiwan’s strongest earthquake since 1999

On April 3, 2024, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan, prompting tsunami warnings for the self-ruled island, southern Japan and the Philippines. The earthquake was the most powerful to hit the island in 25 years, said the director of Taipei’s Seismology Centre. 

However, many large earthquakes have struck this part of Taiwan in the past, including a series of four earthquakes of 7+ magnitude that occurred along the East Rift Valley in 1951!

The quake struck south-southwest of the city of Hualien, on the east coast of the island, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). It struck at 7:58 am local time. The impact was felt as far as the Taiwanese capital of Taipei, in the north of the island.

Taiwan’s fire department said at least nine people have been confirmed dead and close to 900 injured, with the worst damage reported in the eastern city of Hualien and the mountainous countryside surrounding it. 

At least 26 buildings have collapsed, and several water towers have been hit across Taiwan. Several news reports note that rescue operations for more than 100 people trapped are believed to be ongoing, including some in a coal mine.

According to reports, the Philippines and Japan issued a tsunami warning and ordered the evacuation of coastal areas. After the earthquake, a tsunami of at least 30 centimetres had already reached Yonaguni Island, some 110 kilometres (70 miles) from Taiwan. 

The island of Taiwan lies on the Pacific Ring of Fire, the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.

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