Taiwan’s strongest earthquake in 25 years kills 9 people and 50 are missing

Taiwan’s biggest earthquake in at least 25 years killed nine people on Wednesday and injured more than 900, while 50 workers traveling in minibuses to a hotel in a national park were missing.

Some buildings leaned at precarious angles in the mountainous, sparsely populated county of Hualien, near the epicenter of the 7.2-magnitude earthquake, which struck just off the coast at around 8 a.m. (0000 GMT) and triggered huge landslides.

Linda Chen, 48, said their apartment in central Hualien city was so damaged by a previous earthquake in 2018 that they had to move house. But her new apartment block was also damaged by the last earthquake.

“We are afraid that the house could collapse at any moment. We thought we had already gone through this once in Hualien and that it wouldn’t hit us again, because God has to be fair,” she said.

“We are scared. We are very nervous.”

The earthquake occurred at a depth of 15.5 km (9.6 miles) as people were heading to work and school, triggering a tsunami warning for southern Japan and the Philippines, which was subsequently suspended.

Video showed rescue workers using ladders to help trapped people out of windows. Strong tremors in Taipei forced the subway system to briefly close, although most lines resumed service.

Firefighters said they had already evacuated around 70 people trapped in tunnels near the city of Hualien, including two Germans.

But they lost contact with 50 workers aboard four minibuses heading to a hotel in a national park, Taroko Gorge, they said, and rescuers were searching for them. Another 80 people are trapped in a mining area, although it was not immediately clear whether they were inside a mine.


A woman who runs a guesthouse in the city of Hualien said she struggled to calm her guests who were frightened by the earthquake.

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

The government put the number of injured at 946.

“Currently, the most important thing, the top priority, is rescuing people,” said President-elect Lai Ching-te, speaking outside one of the collapsed buildings in Hualien.

The rail link to the area was expected to reopen on Thursday, Lai, who will take office next month, told reporters.

The White House said the US stands ready to provide any assistance needed.

Taiwan’s Air Force said six F-16 fighter jets were slightly damaged at a large base in the city, where the jets are often sent to fend off incursions by China’s Air Force, but the aircraft are expected to return to service very soon. brief.

In Japan, the meteorological agency put the earthquake’s magnitude at 7.7, saying several small tsunami waves hit parts of southern Okinawa prefecture, while also downgrading its tsunami warning to a warning.

In the Philippines, seismological authorities warned coastal residents in several provinces to move to higher ground.

Chinese state media said the earthquake was felt in the southeastern province of Fujian, while a Reuters witness said it was also felt in the commercial hub of Shanghai.

Aftershocks could still be felt in Taipei, with more than 50 recorded, weather officials said.

Most power was restored after the quake, electricity utility Taipower said, and the island’s two nuclear plants were not affected.

Taiwan’s high-speed rail operator said no damage or injuries were reported to its trains, although services may be delayed during inspections.

A major chip supplier to Apple (AAPL.O), opens a new tab, and Nvidia (NVDA.O), opens a new tab, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (2330.TW), opens a new tab, said it has evacuated some factories and that security systems were functioning normally.

“To ensure the safety of personnel, some factories were evacuated in accordance with company procedures,” the semiconductor giant said in a statement, later adding that employees began returning to work.

Taipei-listed TSMC shares ended down 1.3%, but the benchmark index (.TWII), opens a new tab, largely erased the impact of the earthquake, closing down 0.6%.

The official central news agency said the quake was the largest since a 7.6 magnitude earthquake in 1999 that killed around 2,400 people and damaged or destroyed 50,000 buildings.

Taiwan’s meteorological authorities classified Wednesday’s earthquake in Hualien as “Upper 6,” or the second highest level of intensity on a scale ranging from 1 to 7.

Such earthquakes collapse walls, unless they are made of reinforced concrete blocks, and people cannot stand and must crawl to move, experts say.

Report originally published in Reuters

Source: https://www.ocafezinho.com/2024/04/03/taiwan-registra-o-maior-terremoto-em-mais-de-duas-decadas/

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