3 Apr 2024

Taiwan Earthquake 2024: Toll rises to 9, rescuers search badly damaged buildings looking for survivors

Taiwan Earthquake 2024: Rescuers in Taiwan are searching badly damaged buildings looking for scores of people missing after a powerful earthquake hit the island’s east coast

Toll in the quake has risen to nine with hundreds sustaining injuries in the wake of a formidable 7.4 magnitude earthquake that rocked eastern Taiwan. This seismic event, deemed the most potent in 25 years, struck on Wednesday morning, prompting tsunami alerts across Taiwan, southern Japan, and the Philippines. However, these warnings have since been downgraded to advisory status.

According to TaiwanPlusNews, the initial casualty was caused by a landslide, resulting in a fatality as reported by the fire department authorities.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) recorded the quake, occurring just prior to 8:00 am local time, with its epicenter located 18 kilometers south of Taiwan’s Hualien City, at a depth of 34.8 kilometers.

Seismology officials in Taipei affirmed that this earthquake marks the most powerful tremor witnessed in Taiwan over the past 25 years.

Twenty people remain trapped within the debris of 26 collapsed structures, over half of which are situated in Hualien city. Rescue operations are actively underway throughout the affected regions, with reports streaming in of widespread devastation, including collapsed edifices and residences.

Thousands of households are without electricity, and a primary east coast highway has been closed due to landslides and rockfalls, as per Taiwanese officials.

Although a tsunami warning was initially issued, Taiwan reported no resulting damage. Subsequently, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii declared that the risk of significant tsunami waves had substantially diminished.

Train and subway services suspended

Train and subway services across the island, housing a population of 23 million, have been suspended.

Taiwan’s outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen has mobilized her administration to assess the situation promptly, provide essential aid, and collaborate with local authorities to mitigate the disaster's impact.

Terrifying footage circulated on social media, capturing the earthquake's onset and its aftermath. Videos depict swinging ceiling fixtures, commuters halting mid-bridge amidst violent tremors, and structures swaying precariously.

The Japanese meteorological agency warned of tsunami waves reaching heights of up to three meters (10 feet) for remote Japanese islands, including Miyakojima island.

Given Taiwan's geographical location near the convergence of two tectonic plates, earthquakes are a recurring phenomenon. The island witnessed a devastating 7.6 magnitude quake in September 1999, claiming approximately 2,400 lives — the deadliest natural catastrophe in its history.

Hualien city experienced a deadly earthquake in 2018, resulting in the collapse of a historic hotel and numerous buildings.

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