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Taiwan is hit by its strongest earthquake in nearly 25 years

In this image taken from a video footage run by TVBS, residents rescue a child from a partially collapsed building in Hualien, eastern Taiwan on Wednesday, April 3, 2024.
Anonymous
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AP
In this image taken from a video footage run by TVBS, residents rescue a child from a partially collapsed building in Hualien, eastern Taiwan on Wednesday, April 3, 2024.

Updated April 3, 2024 at 11:03 AM ET

TAIPEI, Taiwan — A major earthquake struck Taiwan during the morning rush hour on Wednesday, collapsing buildings and triggering tsunami warnings in Japan and the Philippines.

At least 9 people were reported dead and 963 were injured in the strongest earthquake that has not seen since 1999, Taiwanese officials said.

The quake hit near the eastern city of Hualien at 7:58 a.m. local time (2358 GMT) and had a magnitude of 7.4, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, making it the strongest quake to hit since 1999. The depth was about 35 kilometers (22 miles), which is considered shallow. Taiwan's earthquake monitoring agency gave the magnitude as 7.2.

Strong shaking was felt in Taipei, the capital, some 100 miles away, with aftershocks continued for roughly two hours. And there were reports in China that people as far away as Shanghai, about 500 miles to the north, could feel the earthquake.

Images on television showed extensive damage, including buildings listing to the side after having been shaken off their foundations. The authorities suspended work and school in Hualien, an area with about 300,000 residents. Officials also closed down eight power plants for safety, and 87,000 residents in Hualien, the epicenter, were without power, though electricity remains on for the rest of the island.

TSMC, the world's leading maker of cutting edge microchips, temporarily evacuated production lines after the quake.

In this image taken from a video footage run by TVBS, a partially collapsed building is seen in Hualien, eastern Taiwan on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. A powerful earthquake rocked the entire island of Taiwan early Wednesday, collapsing buildings in a southern city and creating a tsunami that washed ashore on southern Japanese islands.
/ TVBS via AP
/
TVBS via AP
In this image taken from a video footage run by TVBS, a partially collapsed building is seen in Hualien, eastern Taiwan on Wednesday. A powerful earthquake rocked the entire island of Taiwan early Wednesday, collapsing buildings in a southern city and creating a tsunami that washed ashore on southern Japanese islands.

Taiwan's transportation authorities said train service was suspended island-wide, as well as subway service in Taipei. Videos from the epicenter show rockslides covering roads and houses that were knocked off-kilter.

An initial tsunami warning issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency was lifted later on Wednesday. The AP reported that a wave of 30 centimeters (about 1 foot) was detected on the coast of Yonaguni island about 15 minutes after the quake struck. JAMA said waves likely also hit the coasts of Miyako and Yaeyama islands.

In the Philippines, no tsunami warning was issued, but residents in various coastal areas were advised to move to higher ground or move inland.

According to Taiwan media, the last earthquake of a magnitude 7 or greater to hit the island was the Sept. 21, 1999, "Jiji" earthquake that measured 7.3, which destroyed thousands of buildings and killed more than 2,400 people.

John Ruwitch contributed reporting from Beijing.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Emily Feng is NPR's Beijing correspondent.
John Ruwitch is a correspondent with NPR's international desk. He covers Chinese affairs.