Taiwan: Strong 7.2 earthquake strikes off Hualien


According to Taipei Times reports: The whole of Taiwan was jolted by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck just off the coast of Hualien County at 7:58am on Wednesday.

The Hualien County Government announced that school and classes would be suspended on Wednesday following the quake.

According to the Central Weather Administration (CWA), the epicenter was 25km south-southeast of Hualien County Hall at a depth of 15.5km.

The highest intensity of 6 was felt in Hualien, while Yilan and Miaoli counties registered over 5.

Intensities of just under 5 were felt in Taipei, New Taipei City, Taichung and Taoyuan, as well as Nantou, Hsinchu and Changhua counties.

Most of the rest of the country experienced intensities of 4, even as far south as Pingtung County.

The CWA warned of the possibility of aftershocks measuring magnitude 6.5 to 7 over the next three to four days.

This morning’s earthquake was felt across Taiwan as it was both shallow and close to land, CWA Seismological Center Director Wu Chien-fu (吳健富) said.

Initial observations suggest that it was the main quake, although strong aftershocks are possible, Wu said.

This is the strongest earthquake to hit Taiwan since the magnitude 7.3 quake on Sept. 21, 1999, he said, adding that the intensity readings might be adjusted, but it initially appears to be a similar magnitude.

MRT services in Taipei were suspended for 40 to 60 minutes for routine safety checks, although there were no initial reports of irregularities.

Services on the blue and red lines had resumed by 8:45am.

The Taichung MRT and high-speed rail also suspended services temporarily along the entire line.

A tsunami warning has been issued in Japan’s Okinawa and several provinces in the Philippines.

Two buildings in Hualien City were tilting at severe angles after the quake, one of which is on the intersection of Zhongshan and Chongqing roads. Emergency responders were still working to rescue people inside.