Disasters: Strongest earthquake in 25 years hits Taiwan

After the violent earthquake off the east coast of Taiwan, the number of dead has risen to 7 and the number of injured has risen to over 700.

Disasters: Strongest earthquake in 25 years hits Taiwan

After the violent earthquake off the east coast of Taiwan, the number of dead has risen to 7 and the number of injured has risen to over 700. As the national fire department announced on Wednesday, 736 people were considered injured. Accordingly, 77 people were still trapped in buildings in the hardest-hit city of Hualien on Taiwan's east coast. The number of various accidents, such as damage to buildings or infrastructure, also rose to over 1,100.

The quake occurred in the morning (local time) a few kilometers off the east coast of Taiwan. The weather agency recorded an earthquake magnitude of 7.2 on the southeastern coast of the island near the city of Hualien at a depth of 15.5 kilometers. The United States Earthquake Observatory (USGS) reported a magnitude of 7.4 in the area. In Japan, according to media reports, the authorities even spoke of a magnitude of 7.7.

Some houses collapsed

Bridges, railways, highways, public buildings and residential buildings: important infrastructure was affected by the tremors. The quake was felt across the country. The east coast city of Hualien was hit particularly hard, where some buildings were severely damaged by the violent tremors. Photos showed how several houses collapsed and became tilted.

According to eyewitnesses, the quake was also clearly felt in and around the capital Taipei. In New Taipei, which surrounds the capital, three people were injured when a warehouse collapsed. Residents of the capital reported that furnishings and dishes were broken in their houses and apartments. Public rail transport has been suspended in several major cities on the island with more than 23 million inhabitants. Express train services were also interrupted.

Tsunami warnings in several countries

Taiwan, China, Japan and the Philippines warned of tsunamis for several hours before the warnings were initially relaxed and later lifted. In Japan, northeast of Taiwan, the earthquake triggered a warning of a three-meter-high tsunami for nearby islands in southwestern Japan's Okinawa Prefecture. Residents of the affected islands were called upon to seek safety.

Authorities in the Philippines also issued a tsunami warning. The National Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said high tsunami waves were expected that could last for hours. People in several provinces of the island nation were asked to seek safety and leave the coastal regions.

China offers help

In neighboring China, which considers Taiwan a breakaway province, the quake was a main topic on state television news. Chinese authorities are very concerned about the situation, said Chinese Taiwan Affairs Office spokeswoman Zhu Fenglian in Beijing. The mainland is monitoring the situation and is ready to offer disaster assistance.

It remains to be seen whether Taiwan will accept China's help. There are always tensions between the two states over Beijing's territorial claims, even though an independent and democratically elected government has been in power in Taiwan for decades.

Production stop at an important chip manufacturer

The quake also had an impact on the economy: Taiwan's important semiconductor manufacturer TSMC, for example, stopped production, as the authority of the industrial park in the city of Hsinchu announced. The company reportedly evacuated workers from production during the quake. Other companies also temporarily stopped work. The state-owned energy supplier reported that more than 308,000 households in Taiwan lost power due to the quake. Tens of thousands were still temporarily without power afterwards.

The last time Taiwan was hit was in September 1999 by a magnitude 7.3 quake. At that time, more than 2,400 people died. Taiwan lies in an earthquake-prone zone on the border of the Eurasian plate and the Philippine Sea plate.

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