Nine dead, 900 injured in most powerful Taiwan quake in 25 years

TAIPEI  -  At least nine people were killed and more than 900 injured Wednesday by a powerful earthquake in Taiwan that damaged dozens of buildings and prompted tsunami warnings that extended to Ja­pan and the Philippines before being lifted.

Officials said the quake was the strongest to shake the island in decades, and warned of more tremors in the days ahead. “The earthquake is close to land and it’s shallow. It’s felt all over Tai­wan and offshore islands,” said Wu Chien-fu, direc­tor of Taipei’s Central Weather Administration’s Seismology Center. Strict building regulations and widespread public disaster awareness appear to have staved off a major catastrophe for the earth­quake-prone island, which lies near the junction of two tectonic plates. Wu said the quake was the strongest since a 7.6-magnitude struck in Sep­tember 1999, killing around 2,400 people in the deadliest natural disaster in the island’s history. Wednesday’s magnitude-7.4 quake hit just before 8:00 am local time (0000 GMT), with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) putting the epi­centre 18 kilometres (11 miles) south of Taiwan’s Hualien City, at a depth of 34.8 kilometres.

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