7.4-magnitude earthquake hits near Taiwan, rocking the island and triggering tsunami warnings


An earthquake with a strong magnitude of 7.4 struck off eastern Taiwan Wednesday morning local time, triggering tsunami warnings.

The earthquake struck about 11 miles from Hualien City, Taiwan, according to the United States Geological Survey, rocking the entire island and collapsing buildings. It was followed by a 6.5-magnitude earthquake.

The U.S. Tsunami Warning System issued a warning of possible hazardous tsunami waves possible for coasts within 300 km (about 186 miles) from the earthquake’s epicenter, saying China, Taiwan and Japan may be affected.

Japan also issued a tsunami alert for the southern Japanese island group of Okinawa, and Japan’s meteorological agency forecast a tsunami of up to 3 meters (9.8 feet). About half an hour later, it said the first wave of the tsunami was already believed to have arrived on the coasts of Miyako and Yaeyama islands.

A five-story building in lightly populated Hualien appeared heavily damaged, collapsing its first floor and leaving the rest leaning at a 45-degree angle. In the capital, Taipei, tiles fell from older buildings and within some newer office complexes.

Train service was suspended across the island of 23 million people, as was subway service in Taipei. But things quickly returned to normal in the capital, with children going to school and the morning commute appearing to be normal.

The head of Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring bureau, Wu Chien-fu, said effects were detected as far away as Kinmen, a Taiwanese-controlled island off the coast of China. Multiple aftershocks were felt in Taipei in the hour after the initial quake.

The quake was believed to be the biggest in Taiwan since a temblor in 1999 caused extensive damage. Taiwan lies along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” the line of seismic faults encircling the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquakes occur.

This is a breaking news update. Please check back for developments.


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