Taiwan's largest earthquake in 25 years leaves 4 dead, dozens injured

At least four people were killed after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck off Taiwan’s eastern coast early Wednesday.

Around 56 people were injured as search and rescue operations continued amid recurring aftershocks.

The quake is the biggest to have hit the island nation in 25 years. Around 2,400 people were killed in 1999 when a 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan in the middle of the night.

President Tsai Ing-wen has ordered the military to be deployed in the affected areas.

"The national military will meet the needs of local governments and provide support to ensure the safety of the lives and property of the citizens," Tsai said in a statement on her Facebook page.

An official from the president’s office told Anadolu by phone that the administration was still gathering details about the “rapidly developing situation.”

The US Geological Survey (USGS) announced that the epicenter of the quake was 18 kilometers (11 miles) south of the city of Hualien.

It said "casualties and damage are likely, but the impact should be relatively localized."

However, Taiwan’s Central Weather Administration (CWA) put the magnitude of the earthquake at 7.2, saying it struck off the coast of Hualien County in eastern Taiwan at 7:58 a.m. Wednesday (2358GMT Tuesday).

Video footage from local media showed some buildings in the city collapsed due to the quake, which occurred at a depth of 34.8 kilometers (21 miles).

The CWA also issued a tsunami warning for the northern regions of the island after the quake, which also triggered landslides.

Metro lines in the capital Taipei and the Taichung and Kaohsiung areas were affected while people in coastal areas were preparing to be evacuated due to fears of high waves.

Schools in the affected areas have been suspended.

Electricity in many areas was also affected.

There are possibilities of recurring tremors over the next few days.

According to Nikkei Asia, Taiwan's tech companies were “racing to assess the impact.”

Any impact by the earthquake on the tech sector is likely to cause disruptions in chip supplies.

The earthquake triggered small tsunami waves which reached southwestern Japan, which has now lowered an alert over high waves.

“A small tsunami reached the islands of Yonaguni, Ishigaki and Miyako in Okinawa Prefecture,” said the Japan Meteorological Agency, warning about the possibility of a larger tsunami.

China said it was “highly concerned” following the earthquake.

Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, expressed “sincere condolences to the Taiwan compatriots affected by the disaster.”

“We will pay close attention to the disaster and subsequent situations and are willing to provide disaster relief assistance,” Zhu said.

Meanwhile, the Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has raised a tsunami warning over four areas in northern Luzon following the earthquake.

People in the Batanes group of islands, Cagayan, Ilocos Norte and Isabela were alerted about a possible tsunami and ordered to immediately evacuate to higher ground.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt