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Taiwan Rocked by Its Strongest Earthquake in 25 Years

A partially collapsed building in Hualien City, Taiwan following the April 3 earthquake | Image Credit: TVBS via AP
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A tsunami alert was issued following the 7.4-magnitude quake, which struck Wednesday morning off the east coast of Taiwan.

An earthquake measuring 7.4 magnitude struck off Taiwan’s east coast on Wednesday morning, prompting tsunami alerts across the island and its neighbouring regions. Most tsunami alerts have subsequently been eased.

(Note: The Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA), which initially reported the quake’s magnitude at 7.7, later revised it to 7.5. Taiwan put the magnitude at 7.2, while the USGS said it was 7.4. As is often the case, the initially reported magnitude is revised over time as more data points are analysed.)

The quake’s epicentre lies approximately 18 km south of Hualien city, as reported by the US Geological Survey. In Hualien, several buildings have suffered partial collapse, appearing precariously askew.

Image Credit: Fox Weather

According to seismology authorities, this marks Taiwan’s most powerful earthquake in a quarter-century.

Taiwan’s leading chip manufacturer, TSMC, took precautionary measures by evacuating some of its facilities in Hsinchu and southern Taiwan to ensure staff safety. However, the company reassured that its safety protocols remain operational. TSMC plays a significant role in semiconductor production for tech giants such as Apple and Nvidia.

Footage from Taipei depicts buildings swaying violently, causing objects to scatter from shelves and furniture to topple. In the island’s rugged interior, social media videos reveal substantial landslides triggered by the earthquake, with the full extent of the damage yet to be assessed.

A building in a near-toppled state after the 7.4-magnitude quake | Image Credit: TVBS via AP
In this image taken from video footage on TVBS, a woman stands near a partially collapsed building in Hualien City | Image Credit: TVBS via AP

Local media broadcasts showcase collapsed residential structures, alongside evacuations from homes and schools. Reports indicate vehicular damage and disarray in stores due to the tremors.

Power disruptions and internet blackouts have been documented island-wide by the internet monitoring group NetBlocks.

The earthquake struck on April 3, 2024 at 07:58 local time (23:58 GMT) at a depth of 15.5 km, triggering at least nine aftershocks of magnitude 4 or higher.

A screengrab from a social media video shows a massive landslide in central Taiwan | Image Credit: Byron Wan/X via CNN
The earthquake triggered numerous other landslides in Taiwan’s mountainous interior | Image Credit: Reuters

In Japan, authorities initially issued tsunami advisories predicting waves up to 3 m along the southwestern coast. Subsequently, these warnings were downgraded, although residents were urged to remain vigilant for potential aftershocks over the next week.


The Philippines’ seismology agency also issued a tsunami alert, advising residents to seek higher ground, while the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center later declared the threat to have passed.

Reports from Chinese state media indicate tremors felt in parts of Fujian province, with Wu Chien Fu, director of Taipei’s Seismology Centre, emphasising the quake’s widespread impact, describing it as the most intense in 25 years.

No stranger to earthquakes: A 6.9 temblor in September 2022 collapsed this residential building in Hualien County, eastern Taiwan; Wednesday’s quake was in the same region | Image Credit: Al Jazeera

In September 1999, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake ravaged Taiwan, claiming 2,400 lives and demolishing 5,000 buildings.

In 2022, two earthquakes affected Taitung and Hualien Counties within hours of each other. The first earthquake struck Taitung on September 17, 2022, occurring with a magnitude of 6.5 , causing minor damage and some injuries. The second earthquake occurred roughly a day after the first tremor struck the same area, with a stronger magnitude of 6.9.

This is a developing story.

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