WORLD

Taiwan’s strongest earthquake in decades damages buildings, causes small tsunami

Apr 2, 2024, 6:10 PM | Updated: 8:52 pm

Image: In this image taken from a video footage run by TVBS, a partially collapsed building is seen...

In this image taken from a video footage run by TVBS, a partially collapsed building is seen in Hualien, eastern Taiwan on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. A powerful earthquake rocked the entire island of Taiwan early Wednesday, collapsing buildings in a city and creating a tsunami that washed ashore on Japanese islands. (Image courtesy of TVBS via AP)

(Image courtesy of TVBS via AP)

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s strongest earthquake in a quarter century rocked the island during the morning rush Wednesday, damaging buildings and creating a tsunami that washed ashore on southern Japanese islands. There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries, and the tsunami threat largely passed about two hours later.

A five-story building in the lightly populated southeastern coastal city of Hualien near the epicenter appeared heavily damaged, collapsing its first floor and leaving the rest leaning at a 45-degree angle. In the capital, tiles fell from older buildings and within some newer office complexes, while debris fell from some building sites. Schools evacuated their students to sports fields, equipping them with yellow safety helmets. Some also covered themselves with textbooks to guard against falling objects as aftershocks continued.

Train service was suspended across the island of 23 million people, as was subway service in Taipei, where a newly constructed above-ground line partially separated. The national legislature, a converted school built before World War II, also had damage to walls and ceilings.

More from MyNorthwest: Earthquake Tracker

Traffic along the east coast was at a virtual standstill, with landslides and falling debris hitting tunnels and highways in the mountainous region. Those caused damage to vehicles, though it wasn’t clear if anyone was hurt.

Despite the quake striking at the height of the morning rush hour just before 8 a.m., the initial panic faded quickly on the island that is regularly rocked by temblors and prepares for them with drills at schools and notices issued via public media and mobile phone.

Still, the earthquake was strong enough to scare people who are used to such shaking.

“Earthquakes are a common occurrence, and I’ve grown accustomed to them. But today was the first time I was scared to tears by an earthquake,” Taipei resident Hsien-hsuen Keng said. ”I was awakened by the earthquake. I had never felt such intense shaking before.”

She said her fifth-floor apartment shook so hard that “apart from earthquake drills in elementary school, this was the first time I had experienced such a situation.”

There was still no word on casualties from the epicenter near the city of Hualien, where a deadly quake in 2018 collapsed a historic hotel and other buildings. Taiwan’s worst quake in recent years struck on Sept. 21, 1999, with a magnitude of 7.7, causing 2,400 deaths, injuring around 100,000 and destroying thousands of buildings.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said a tsunami wave of about 1 foot was detected on the coast of Yonaguni island about 15 minutes after the quake struck. Smaller waves were measured in Ishigaki and Miyako islands. Japan sent military aircraft to gather information about the impact around the Okinawa region.

Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring agency gave the magnitude as 7.2 while the U.S. Geological Survey put it at 7.4. It struck at 7:58 a.m. about 18 kilometers south-southwest of Hualien and was about 21 miles deep. Multiple aftershocks followed, and the USGS said one of the subsequent quakes was 6.5 magnitude and 7 miles deep. Shallower quakes tend to cause more surface damage.

The earthquake was felt in Shanghai and several provinces along China’s southeastern coast, according to Chinese media. China and Taiwan are about 100 miles apart. China issued no tsunami warnings for the Chinese mainland.

Residents of China’s Fujian province reported violent shaking, according to Jimu News, an online outlet. One man told Jimu that the shaking awakened him and lasted about a minute.

In the Philippines, residents along the northern coast were told to evacuate to higher ground, but no major tsunami was reported about three hours after the quake.

Villagers in the provinces of Batanes, Cagayan, Ilocos Norte and Isabela were asked not to return to their homes until the tsunami alert was lifted, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology Teresito Bacolcol said.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said there has been no report of injury or damage in Japan. He urged the residents in the Okinawa region to stay on high ground until all tsunami advisories are lifted. He cautioned the people against disinformation and urged to stay calm and assist others.

Residents of China’s Fujian province reported violent shaking, according to Jimu News, an online outlet. One man told Jimu that the shaking awakened him and lasted about a minute.

In the Philippines, residents along the northern coast were told to evacuate to higher ground, but no major tsunami was reported about three hours after the quake.

Villagers in the provinces of Batanes, Cagayan, Ilocos Norte and Isabela were asked not to return to their homes until the tsunami alert was lifted, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology Teresito Bacolcol said.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said there has been no report of injury or damage in Japan. He urged the residents in the Okinawa region to stay on high ground until all tsunami advisories are lifted. He cautioned the people against disinformation and urged to stay calm and assist others.

No tsunami threat to U.S.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no tsunami threat to Hawaii or the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam. About three hours after the earthquake, it said the threat had largely passed for all areas with waves being reported only in Taiwan and southern Japan.

Local news: 5.7 magnitude earthquake strikes Oregon coast

Taiwan lies along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” the line of seismic faults encircling the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquake’s occur.

World

Associated Press

United Arab Emirates struggles to recover after heaviest recorded rainfall ever hits desert nation

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United Arab Emirates struggled Thursday to recover from the heaviest recorded rainfall ever to hit the desert nation, as its main airport worked to restore normal operations even as floodwater still covered portions of major highways and roads. Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international travel, allowed […]

17 hours ago

Associated Press

Chinese foreign minister criticizes US role in Gaza talks during visit to Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attacked the United States for earlier blocking United Nations resolutions calling for a cease-fire in Gaza after a meeting with his counterpart in Indonesia. The Chinese and Indonesian foreign ministers reiterated their countries’ calls for an immediate and lasting cease-fire in Gaza after a meeting in […]

18 hours ago

Associated Press

Russian missiles slam into a Ukraine city and kill 13 people as the war approaches a critical stage

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Three Russian missiles slammed into a downtown area of the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv on Wednesday, hitting an eight-floor apartment building and killing at least 13 people, authorities said. At least 61 people, including two children, were wounded in the morning attack, Ukrainian emergency services said. Chernihiv lies about 150 […]

2 days ago

Associated Press

Stock market today: Asian shares gain despite Wall Street’s tech-led retreat

Asian shares advanced on Thursday even after sinking technology stocks sent Wall Street lower in the S&P 500’s worse losing streak since the start of the year. U.S. futures were lower, while oil prices gained. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 climbed 0.3% to 38,090.87 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 1.5% to 16,489.59. The Shanghai […]

2 days ago

Associated Press

Donors pledge $630 million for conflict-hit Ethiopia but fall far short of $1 billion needed

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A United Nations-backed gathering raised pledges of almost $630 million for Ethiopia’s humanitarian crisis on Tuesday but fell short of the $1 billion sought to help feed and support millions of people facing conflict and climate change in Africa’s second most populous country. The United States, Ethiopia’s leading humanitarian donor, warned […]

2 days ago

Associated Press

Stock market today: Asian benchmarks trade mixed amid expectations for US rates to stay high

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were trading mixed Wednesday, as expectations resurfaced that U.S. interest rates may stay high for a while. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 dipped 0.6% in morning trading to 38,226.39. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.2% to 7,624.70. South Korea’s Kospi declined 0.3% to 2,603.22. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.2% to […]

3 days ago

Taiwan’s strongest earthquake in decades damages buildings, causes small tsunami