Tsunami warning after severe earthquake in Taiwan

Tsunami warning after severe earthquake in Taiwan
In Hualien (Taiwan), this building was knocked down and left standing at an angle

In New Taipei in the north, a warehouse collapsed, injuring three people, several media outlets reported on Wednesday. There may also have been a death. The earth had previously shaken in the East Asian island republic of Taiwan on Wednesday morning (local time) with a magnitude of over 7.0.

Taiwan’s meteorological agency recorded a magnitude 7.2 quake southeast of the coast near Hualien at a depth of 15.5 kilometers. The United States Earthquake Observatory (USGS) reported a magnitude of 7.4 in the area. The fire department expressed suspicion that a person had been killed by boulders in the mountainous, sparsely populated area around Hualien, located to the east on the coast. 50 people were injured there. At least 26 houses collapsed and around 20 people were trapped under the rubble.

Damage was also reported from other parts of the country. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and Premier Chen Chien-jen were expected at the central emergency control center in New Taipei, which surrounds the capital Taipei, this morning. Taiwan’s major semiconductor maker TSMC halted production, the Hsinchu City Industrial Park Authority said. The company reportedly evacuated workers from production during the quake. The company is currently checking the condition of the machines.

Also felt in China

According to Chinese state media and eyewitnesses, the quake was also felt in several cities on the Chinese mainland, including Shanghai. Taiwanese television showed images of collapsed buildings in Hualien, on Taiwan’s coast, not far from the quake’s epicenter. According to the Taipei city government, there are no reports of damage in the capital. The city’s rail system is back in operation after a short interruption.

The Southern Taiwan Science Park, where semiconductor giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co has a factory, said operations at all companies there were continuing without disruption. According to Taiwan’s official news agency, the quake was the strongest on the island since 1999, when a magnitude 7.6 quake killed around 2,400 people. Taiwan lies in an earthquake-prone zone on the boundary of the Eurasian plate and the Philippine Sea plate.

Tsunami warning for Japan

Japan issued an evacuation advisory for coastal areas of southern Okinawa Prefecture. According to the Japanese Meteorological Agency, tsunami waves up to three meters high are expected after a powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 in the sea off Taiwan, which could reach large parts of the coast in southwestern Japan. Waves off the island of Yonaguni had already reached 30 centimeters in the morning.

The Philippines also issued a tsunami warning. High tsunami waves are expected that could last for hours, the National Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) said on Wednesday. People in several provinces of the island nation were asked to seek safety and leave the coastal regions. Boats should be moored, while those already at sea should remain there and not head towards shore, it said. Both Japan and the Philippines have now lifted their tsunami warnings.

China asked for help

The large neighboring country China asked Taiwan for help. Chinese authorities are very concerned about the situation, said Chinese Taiwan Affairs Office spokeswoman Zhu Fenglian in Beijing on Wednesday. The mainland is monitoring the situation and is ready to offer disaster assistance. It remained unclear whether Taiwan would accept China’s help. There are always tensions between the two states because Beijing counts the island as part of China, even though an independent and democratically elected government has been in power in Taiwan for decades.

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