Taiwan’s strongest earthquake in 25 years leaves nine dead, hundreds injured

TAIPEI: At least nine people were killed and more than 800 injured Wednesday (Apr 3) by a powerful earthquake in Taiwan that damaged dozens of buildings and prompted tsunami warnings that extended to Japan and the Philippines before being lifted.

The magnitude-7.2 quake struck offshore just before 8am local time, with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) putting the epicentre 18km south of Taiwan’s Hualien City.

It was the strongest to shake the island in at least 25 years, officials said, as they warned of more tremors in the days ahead.

“The earthquake is close to land and it’s shallow. It’s felt all over Taiwan and offshore islands,” said Wu Chien-fu, director of Taipei’s Central Weather Administration’s Seismology Center.

Local television broadcast images of buildings tilted at precarious angles in the mountainous, while rescuers were seen using ladders to help trapped people out of windows. 

Elsewhere there were massive landslides. Strong tremors in Taipei forced the subway system to close briefly, although most lines resumed service.

“It was very strong. It felt as if the house was going to topple,” said Chang Yu-lin, 60, a worker in a hospital in Taipei, the capital.

A woman who runs a bed-and-breakfast accommodation in Hualien city said she scrambled to calm her guests who were frightened by the quake.

“This is the biggest earthquake I have ever experienced,” said the woman who asked to be identified by her family name, Chan.

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