Nine Dead, 900 Wounded in Most Powerful Taiwan Earthquake in 25 Years

Wed Apr 03 2024
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TAIPEI: At least nine people were killed and over 900 injured on Wednesday by a powerful earthquake in Taiwan that damaged dozens of buildings and prompted tsunami warnings that extended to the Philippines and Japan before being lifted.

The earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.4, struck just before 8:00 am local time, sending tremors across the island and prompting widespread destruction. Authorities warned of potential aftershocks in the coming days, emphasizing the need for continued vigilance.

The epicenter of the quake was located 18 kilometers south of Taiwan’s Hualien City, at a depth of 34.8 kilometers, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The impact was felt far and wide, with buildings swaying violently and structures crumbling under the force of the quake.

Among the casualties, three persons were killed while hiking through the hills surrounding Hualien City when they were struck by boulders dislodged by the earthquake. Additionally, fatalities were reported from vehicular accidents caused by tumbling rocks and incidents at a mining quarry.

In Hualien County, where the quake’s impact was particularly severe, the National Fire Agency confirmed the death toll and reported that 946 people had been injured, although the extent of their injuries was not immediately specified. Many more were believed to be trapped in areas cut off by massive landslides triggered by the quake, including tunnels and mines.

Despite the scale of the disaster, Taiwan’s strict building regulations and public awareness of disaster preparedness likely averted an even greater catastrophe. While several buildings sustained damage and infrastructure was disrupted, the overall response to the crisis was swift and coordinated.

Rescue efforts were underway to reach those trapped in collapsed structures, with firefighters, emergency responders, and volunteers working tirelessly to locate and extract survivors. President-elect and current Vice-President Lai Ching-te emphasized the urgency of rescue operations, pledging swift action to ensure the safety of those affected by the earthquake.

The impact of the quake extended beyond Taiwan, with tsunami warnings initially issued for Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines. However, by mid-morning, authorities confirmed that the threat had largely passed. Nevertheless, the earthquake’s reverberations were felt in neighboring regions, including China’s eastern Fujian province and Hong Kong.

The earthquake’s aftermath disrupted operations at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company and halted construction activities, underscoring the broader economic repercussions of natural disasters in the region. Construction activities were also halted temporarily as authorities focused on addressing the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

Taiwan, situated near the junction of tectonic plates, experiences frequent seismic activity, highlighting the ongoing challenges in managing disaster risk in the area.


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