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Powerful earthquake hit Taiwan, tsunami threat subsided in Japan and Philippines


Taiwan experienced its most powerful earthquake in 25 years.

Taiwanese officials report four deaths, including three hikers, in Hualien County and 700 injured.

The tremor, measuring above 7 on the Richter scale, resulted in the unfortunate loss of four lives and left hundreds injured. Additionally, tsunami warnings were issued, but fortunately, no damage or casualties were reported.


Buildings were violently shaken off their foundations and landslides were triggered in the eastern part of the island by the earthquake that occurred on Wednesday. Numerous structures in the city of Hualien in the east suffered devastating collapses.


According to Taiwanese authorities, the unfortunate incident in Hualien County resulted in the loss of four lives, with three hikers tragically being hit by falling rocks.

Additionally, over 700 individuals sustained injuries.


According to authorities, rescue teams are currently engaged in efforts to free approximately 20 individuals who are believed to be trapped under rubble.


In Taipei, vehicles came to a halt on the side of the road and the city's underground service experienced a temporary suspension. The earthquake caused tiles to be thrown from older buildings and furniture to be knocked over with significant force.


Shortly after, a succession of aftershocks reverberated through the capital, persisting for the following hour. According to Taiwanese authorities, aftershocks are expected to persist for the next three to four days as a result of the earthquake's significant intensity.

Stacy Liu, a Chinese teacher in Taipei, was in the middle of an online class when the earthquake hit. She shared that the experience brought back memories of Taiwan's devastating quake in 1999, which claimed the lives of over 2,400 people.


I was filled with a sense of panic. Liu expressed a sense of apprehension, drawing from their experience in 1999. They emphasised their understanding of the fear that can arise from such situations.


"While preparing for potential chaos, I made sure to equip ourselves with construction helmets, ensure the safety of our guinea pigs, and set up provisions such as water and snacks beneath the table."


Kimmie Phan-Stattmen, a user experience (UX) designer based in Taipei, expressed her surprise at being caught off-guard by the earthquake.


Initially, I anticipated a minor earthquake, but it quickly escalated into a much more intense and forceful event than I am accustomed to. Phan-Stattmen, in an interview with Al Jazeera, expressed surprise when recounting the unexpected swinging open of their sliding glass door, which serves as the entrance to their balcony and apartment.


"Our cat, Beef, dashed through the house, making a beeline for the bedroom. Chaos ensued as books toppled from their shelves."


According to Wu Chien-fu, the director of Taipei's Seismological Centre, the recent earthquake that struck the island is believed to be the most powerful since the 1999 quake. With an estimated magnitude ranging between 7.2 and 7.7, it has left a significant impact on the region.


Reports indicate that the earthquake is near land and has a shallow depth. Wu informed reporters that the tremors were experienced throughout Taiwan and its offshore islands.


The earthquake alert system in Taiwan failed to activate before the quake, despite its usual ability to provide warnings minutes in advance.


Following tsunami warnings in Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii, United States, announced on Tuesday evening that the potential danger had subsided.


The Japan Meteorological Agency (JAM) has now lifted all tsunami advisories after previously urging residents in Okinawa Island, Miyakojima Island, and Yaeyama Island to evacuate due to warnings of waves reaching heights of up to 3 metres (9.8 feet).


According to reports, a wave measuring approximately 0.3 metres (1 foot) high was observed on the coast of Yonaguni Island roughly 15 minutes following the earthquake.


Flights at Okinawa's main airport were temporarily halted in response to the alert.


The alert issued by the Philippine seismology agency has been cancelled, retracting their previous warning about the possibility of "high tsunami waves" in coastal areas.


Taiwan is situated on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", a tectonic belt responsible for approximately 90 percent of global earthquake activity.


The self-governed island has implemented stringent building regulations and comprehensive disaster awareness programmes to minimise the number of casualties resulting from earthquakes.

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