Powerful earthquake hits eastern Taiwan, tsunami warning lifted

The magnitude of the earthquake was estimated at 7.2 and later downgraded to 6.9. The Taiwan Meteorological Agency said it would have registered a magnitude of 6.8.

A powerful earthquake struck off Taiwan’s southeast coast on Sunday (September 18), prompting a tsunami warning for the region. The epicenter of the quake, which struck at 2:44 p.m. local time (6:44 a.m. GMT), was located about 50 km north of Taitung at a depth of ten km, the USGC said.

The magnitude of the quake was estimated at 7.2 by the USGS, which later downgraded it to 6.9. The Taiwan Meteorological Agency said it would have registered a magnitude of 6.8. The Japan Meteorological Agency and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning shortly after the earthquake. A few hours later they issued a statement that there was no longer any threat of high tides.

Collapsed buildings, train derailment…

In Yiluli town, a building containing a shop on the ground floor collapsed. Videos from Taiwan’s Central News Agency showed panicked residents running out of the collapsing building in a thick cloud of dust. The Taiwan Railway Administration (DRA) reported that a train derailed at Hualien Station after a concrete barrier collapsed during the earthquake.

Photos released by the Taiwan Agency showed six train carriages leaning at the station. Twenty passengers were on board, the TRA said, but no injuries were reported. The quake was also felt in the capital Taipei and the southwestern city of Kaohsiung.

On social networks, residents have posted videos of ceiling lights and swinging tables. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen urged people to be aware of the risk of earthquakes. “Drinking water and electricity have been affected in some areas due to the earthquake“, he wrote on Facebook, stressing that relief is difficult.

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In one video, a man described being stuck on a bridge where the road collapsed into a pile of tar and concrete at both ends. In a Facebook post, you can see pictures of a wave-filled swimming pool located on the 60th floor of The One, a skyscraper in Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s fourth tallest building. “It’s shaking so hard, I’m on the 60th floor and it’s so scaryA man laughs in the video.

Regular earthquakes

Earlier in the day, a 6.6-magnitude earthquake hit the same area, followed by several aftershocks. However, Sunday is very strong. The China Seismological Network Center said tremors were felt in coastal areas including Fujian, Guangdong, Jiangsu and Shanghai.

Taiwan and its surroundings are prone to frequent earthquakes due to its location near the junction between two tectonic plates. The island is in an area of ​​intense seismic activity due to its position on the Pacific Ring of Fire. Most earthquakes cause very little damage. Most people in Taiwan live on the west coast and in Taipei.

The beautiful east coast is more remote and sparsely populated, but it attracts many tourists, which is currently in short supply due to the enforced quarantine for travelers. The worst earthquake ever recorded in Taiwan, with a magnitude of 7.6, occurred in September 1999 and killed more than 2,400 people.

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