Taiwan hit by strongest earthquake in 25 years; at least 9 dead, hundreds injured

Taiwan suffered a magnitude 7.4 earthquake on Wednesday, the strongest to hit the East Asian nation in 25 years, resulting in at least nine confirmed deaths, hundreds of injuries and the destruction of several buildings.

The earthquake struck off Taiwan's east coast near Hualien, about 200 miles south of Taipei, at around 8 a.m. local time on Wednesday. Several aftershocks were felt throughout the island, at up to 6.5 magnitude, according to the US Geological Survey.

At least 900 people were injured and nine killed, according to Taiwan's National Fire Bureau.

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Scores of people are trapped in the highway tunnels in Hualien County.

According to USGS tectonic summaryWednesday's earthquake was the “result of a reverse fault near the border between the Eurasia and Philippine Sea Plates.”

Taiwan's president-elect Lai Ching-te, the current vice president, visited the devastated area, saying in a statement that “right now, the most important thing, the highest priority, is to save people.”

“Saving them is of utmost priority,” he added, as reported and translated by The Washington Post. “We need to find out how many people are still trapped and rescue them as soon as possible.”

“Those injured should receive quality treatment so that they can recover quickly…. [We are aiming for] two-way traffic will resume tomorrow evening. As for the water and electricity supply, those will be quickly restored.”

Lai tweeted that efforts were “in full swing to deal with the aftermath of today's earthquake.”

“The outpouring of global support is uplifting and deeply appreciated, as are the efforts of our brave responders. My thoughts are with everyone affected as we work to recover and rebuild,” he continued.

In the last 50 years, six other magnitude 7 or larger earthquakes have occurred within 160 miles of Wednesday's earthquake, according to USGS.

“The largest of these was an M 7.7 earthquake in September 1999 (the Chi-Chi earthquake) that resulted in at least 2,297 deaths, caused damage estimated at $14 billion, and occurred 59 km east of the April 2, 2024 , incident,” the US agency noted.

“In 1920, a magnitude 8.2 earthquake, possibly associated with the subduction zone interface between the Philippine Sea and Eurasian plates, occurred just east of the April 2 earthquake.”

Japan, which lies across the East China Sea from Taiwan, has issued an evacuation advisory for the coastal areas of Okinawa, a southern prefecture, as a tsunami is expected to hit as a result of the earthquake.

The Japan Meteorological Agency warned that tsunami waves of up to three meters (or about 10 feet) were expected to hit large parts of Japan's southwest coast, it reported. Reuters.

Japan experienced its worst earthquake in several years on New Year's Day, when a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck its Ishikawa prefecture, killing about 230 people and damaging or destroying more than 44,000 homes.

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