VIDEO: 7.7-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Taiwan, Kills Four

The most powerful earthquake to hit Taiwan in 25 years has claimed four lives and left over 50 injured, causing widespread destruction, including building collapses, power failures, and landslides across the island. Initial tsunami alerts were issued for southern Japan and the Philippines following the tremor.

Measuring a magnitude of 7.7, according to Japan’s meteorological agency, the quake struck near the popular tourist destination of Hualien on Taiwan’s eastern coast.

It resulted in significant structural damage and trapped individuals amidst aftershocks, with the initial tremor occurring at 7:58 am local time.

Social media footage depicted dramatic rescues, particularly of children, from collapsed residential buildings.

In Hualien, a five-story structure sustained severe damage, with its first floor collapsed and the remainder of the building tilting at a 45-degree angle.

The Taiwan Centre for Science and Technology (CST) reported people and vehicles trapped within the Dachingshui tunnel.

Transportation infrastructure, including train lines, suffered damage, prompting widespread closures of schools and businesses throughout the affected areas.

Eyewitnesses in Hualien recounted driving through falling rocks dislodged from nearby mountains and seeking refuge outside as the tremors intensified.

Further north, a segment of Guishan Island’s headland, a popular tourist spot also referred to as Turtle Island due to its resemblance, slipped into the sea. In Taipei, the capital city, several individuals were rescued from a warehouse that had partially collapsed, while tiles dislodged from buildings.

While registering 7.7 in Japan, Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring agency reported Wednesday’s quake as 7.2 in magnitude, marking it as Taiwan’s most powerful since 1999. In that year, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck 93 miles (150 km) south of Taipei, claiming 2,400 lives and injuring 10,000.

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Hualien experienced its last significant earthquake in 2022, a 6.9-magnitude tremor that caused building collapses and a train derailment, resulting in one fatality and widespread power outages.

Wednesday’s quake prompted Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the nation’s leading semiconductor manufacturer responsible for a significant portion of the world’s advanced semiconductors, to evacuate its production facilities, as reported by Bloomberg News. Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau recorded more than 15 aftershocks exceeding a magnitude of 4.0, although the intensity has been diminishing.

Structural damage was evident in some buildings in central Taipei, such as the Howard Plaza hotel, where the earthquake caused damage to the brickwork and dislodged parts of the hotel’s signage.

Mike Hung Hsu, a guest at the hotel from the United States, recounted being awakened by the earthquake, noting its severity compared to those experienced in Los Angeles, where earthquakes are frequent. He remarked that such a quake was unprecedented in his memory of living in Taiwan.

Initial reports from Japanese media suggested the potential for waves as high as three meters in certain areas of Okinawa prefecture, approximately 1,600 km south of Tokyo, although these forecasts were later revised downward. Japan’s meteorological agency lifted all tsunami advisories by noon local time, with no reports of injuries or damage.

However, an official from Japan’s meteorological agency advised continued evacuation until the advisory was completely lifted. Some residents of the main Okinawa island sought refuge at a nearby US military base, while others observed the sea from higher ground in the prefectural capital, Naha.

The agency warned of possible aftershocks similar in intensity to those experienced in Taiwan over the following week.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the epicenter of the quake was located 18 km (11 miles) south of Hualien city in Taiwan, at a depth of 34.8 km.

The Philippines’ seismology agency issued a tsunami warning for coastal areas facing the Pacific Ocean, anticipating “high tsunami waves,” but later rescinded the warning.

Just three months prior to this event, a magnitude-7.6 earthquake and subsequent tsunami claimed 244 lives and caused extensive damage on the Noto peninsula in Ishikawa prefecture along the Japan Sea coast.

Japan’s most significant recorded earthquake occurred in March 2011, a massive 9.0-magnitude undersea quake off the country’s northeast coast, triggering a devastating tsunami that resulted in approximately 18,500 casualties.’