Powerful earthquake shakes Taiwan, prompting tsunami warnings

(Taipei) An underwater earthquake of magnitude greater than 7 occurred Wednesday near Taiwan, the most powerful to hit the island in 25 years, triggering tsunami warnings in Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines.

Waves up to three meters high are feared in Okinawa, southwest of Japan. “Evacuate to higher areas, do not turn back,” recommended a presenter on Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

“The earthquake could trigger a tsunami that would affect Taiwan. A tsunami alert is issued to remind residents of coastal areas to remain vigilant,” the Taiwanese authorities also warned.

A tsunami warning was also later issued in the Philippines, with orders to evacuate the coastline in 23 of the archipelago’s provinces. The capital Manila is not affected.

The earthquake struck close to Taiwan’s east coast just before 8 a.m. local time (9 a.m. Japanese time, 8 p.m. Eastern time).

Its magnitude was estimated at 7.5 by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 7.4 by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and 7.2 by the Taiwan Meteorological Agency (CWA). It took place at shallow depth, according to these agencies.

Several aftershocks followed one another in the same area.

Two buildings collapsed Wednesday in Hualien, a city located near the epicenter of the violent earthquake that hit Taiwan’s east coast, according to firefighters.

“Two buildings have collapsed and people could be trapped. We don’t have any more information at the moment,” said a Hualien fire official.


A man checks a partially collapsed building in Hualien, eastern Taiwan, Wednesday, April 3, 2024.

Strongest in 25 years

“The earthquake is close to the coast and shallow. It is felt throughout Taiwan and neighboring islands… It is the strongest in 25 years, since the 1999 earthquake,” Taipei Seismological Center director Wu Chien-fu told reporters.

A 7.6 magnitude earthquake killed 2,400 people in September 1999, the worst disaster in Taiwan’s modern history.

“It was definitely the biggest I’ve felt in my life and it lasted maybe 30 seconds, although it seemed to last much longer,” said Phil Smith, a Briton living in Taipei. .

“I heard a few emergency vehicle sirens, but there’s definitely no panic,” he continued.

Located on the border of several tectonic plates, Taiwan and Japan are frequently affected by earthquakes. To limit risks as much as possible, both countries apply some of the strictest construction standards in the world.

In Japan, the Fukushima disaster (north-east) in March 2011, which left around 20,000 people dead or missing, is still remembered.

A 9.0 magnitude underwater earthquake caused a gigantic tsunami on the country’s northeastern coast, which also caused the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

The Noto Peninsula, in central Japan, also suffered a magnitude 7.5 earthquake on 1er January, which left more than 240 dead, notably due to the collapse of numerous old wooden houses.

reference: www.lapresse.ca

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