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Taiwan Hit by Strongest Earthquake in 25 Years, Causing Damage and Casualties

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Image credit: The New York Times

Taiwan experienced its most powerful earthquake in nearly a quarter of a century, striking during the morning rush hour on Wednesday. The quake, with a magnitude of 7.2 according to Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring agency and 7.4 according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), resulted in substantial damage to buildings and infrastructure, as well as tragic loss of life.

According to Taiwan’s national fire agency, the quake claimed the lives of four individuals in Hualien County and left at least 57 others injured. Additionally, three hikers lost their lives in rockslides in Taroko National Park, near the offshore epicenter, as reported by the local United Daily News.

The impact of the earthquake was felt across the island, with reports of collapsed buildings, damaged highways, and disrupted transportation services. In Hualien, a five-story building suffered severe damage, with its first floor collapsing and the remainder tilting at a 45-degree angle. In Taipei, tiles fell from older structures, while newer office complexes experienced debris fallout. Train and subway services were suspended, and traffic along the east coast came to a virtual standstill due to landslides and falling debris.

Despite occurring during the busy morning commute, initial panic subsided relatively quickly, reflecting Taiwan’s preparedness for seismic events through drills and public awareness campaigns. However, the intensity of the earthquake left many shaken, with residents describing scenes of intense shaking and fear.

Taiwan, situated along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” is no stranger to earthquakes, but this event stands out as one of the most powerful in recent memory. The last major quake to hit the island occurred in 1999, resulting in significant casualties and widespread destruction.

Beyond Taiwan, the earthquake’s effects were felt in neighboring regions, with reports of tsunami waves detected in Japan and heightened seismic activity observed in China and the Philippines. While Japan mobilized military aircraft to assess the impact, China issued no tsunami warnings for its mainland. In the Philippines, residents along the northern coast were advised to evacuate to higher ground as a precautionary measure.

In response to the earthquake, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary urged residents in the Okinawa region to remain vigilant and follow safety protocols until all tsunami advisories were lifted. Similarly, authorities in affected areas urged calm and caution, emphasizing the importance of staying informed and assisting others in need.

As the cleanup and recovery efforts get underway, Taiwan and its neighboring countries are bracing for potential aftershocks and assessing the full extent of the damage. With memories of past seismic disasters still fresh, communities are rallying together to support one another and rebuild in the aftermath of this latest natural calamity.

The earthquake serves as a stark reminder of the unpredictable forces of nature and the resilience of those affected. As Taiwan and its neighbors work to recover and rebuild, the importance of preparedness and solidarity in the face of adversity remains paramount.

This story was originally featured on AP News

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