Strongest earthquake in 25 years rocks Taiwan, killing 9 people and trapping 70 workers in quarries

Strongest earthquake in 25 years rocks Taiwan, killing 9 people and trapping 70 workers in quarries

The strongest earthquake in a quarter-century rocked Taiwan during the morning rush hour Wednesday, killing nine people, trapping dozens in quarries and sending some residents scrambling out the windows of damaged buildings.

A tsunami alert was issued and subsequently withdrawn.

The epicentre of the earthquake, which injured hundreds, was located off the coast of the rural, mountainous Hualien County. Here, some structures were severely tilted, with their lower levels destroyed.

In Taipei, the capital situated just over 150 kilometres away, tiles were dislodged from older buildings, and students were evacuated from schools to sports fields, donning yellow safety helmets for protection.

As aftershocks persisted, some children used textbooks as shields against falling debris.

TV footage depicted neighbours and rescuers helping residents, including a young child, escape through windows onto the street after doors were jammed shut due to the tremors. All seemed to be mobile and in shock but without severe injuries.

Despite Taiwan being frequently hit by earthquakes and its population being well-prepared, authorities had anticipated a relatively mild quake and thus did not issue warnings.

The eventual tremor was intense enough to frighten even those accustomed to such events.

Hsien-hsuen Keng, a Taipei resident, said: “I’ve grown accustomed to (earthquakes). But today was the first time I was scared to tears by an earthquake. I was awakened by the earthquake. I had never felt such intense shaking before.”

According to Taiwan’s national fire agency, nine people lost their lives in the quake, which occurred just before 8 am. The local United Daily News reported that three of the deceased were hikers

killed in rockslides in Taroko National Park, located in Hualien, and a van driver died in the same area when boulders struck the vehicle.

Another 934 individuals were injured. Authorities also reported losing contact with 50 people travelling in minibuses in the national park after the quake disrupted phone networks.

Additionally, 64 individuals were trapped in one rock quarry, and six in another, according to the fire agency.

The quake and its aftershocks resulted in 24 landslides and damaged 35 roads, bridges, and tunnels.

Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring agency reported the quake’s magnitude as 7.2, while the US Geological Survey rated it at 7.4. It occurred about 18 kilometres off of Hualien, on Taiwan’s east coast, and was approximately 35 kilometres deep. Multiple aftershocks ensued.

Minor damage was also reported at the national legislature, a pre-World War II converted school, and parts of the main airport in Taoyuan, just south of Taipei.

Traffic along the East Coast came to a virtual halt following the earthquake, with landslides and falling debris obstructing tunnels and highways.

Train services across the island, home to 23 million people, were suspended, with some tracks warped by the quake’s stress. Subway service in Taipei was also disrupted, with sections of a newly built elevated line separating but not collapsing.

The initial panic quickly subsided on the island, which regularly conducts drills at schools and issues alerts via public media and mobile phones in preparation for such events.

Stephen Gao, a seismologist and professor at Missouri University of Science and Technology, commended Taiwan’s preparedness as being among the world’s most advanced, citing strict building codes and a top-tier seismological network.

By noon, the metro station in the bustling northern Taipei suburb of Beitou was once again bustling with commuters and visitors to the hot springs or mountain trails at the base of an extinct volcano.

The earthquake was felt in Shanghai and several provinces along China’s southeastern coast, according to Chinese media. China and Taiwan are approximately 160 kilometres apart.

The Japan Meteorological Agency detected a 30-centimetre tsunami on the coast of Yonaguni island about 15 minutes after the quake. Smaller waves were recorded on Ishigaki and Miyako islands. All alerts in the region were withdrawn by Wednesday afternoon.

Taiwan is situated along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a line of seismic faults encircling the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquakes occur.

Hualien was last hit by a deadly quake in 2018 that claimed 17 lives and toppled a historic hotel. The most devastating quake in Taiwan’s recent history occurred on September 21,

1999, with a magnitude of 7.7, resulting in 2,400 deaths, around 100,000 injuries, and the destruction of thousands of buildings. agencies

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