Taipei (AFP) – A strong earthquake struck southeast Taiwan on Sunday, killing at least one person, destroying a few buildings and destroying roads – but forecasters said the threat of a regional tsunami was over.
The US Geological Survey said the quake occurred at 2:44 pm (0644 GMT), 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Taitung, at a depth of 10 kilometers.
Its initial strength was given a strength of 7.2, but the USGS later lowered it to 6.9. Multiple functions were registered.
The Japan Meteorological Agency and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued tsunami warnings shortly after the quake, but both later said there was no longer a threat of high waves.
Taiwan’s National Fire Agency said one person was killed when a machine fell at a cement plant in the town of Yuli, near the epicenter.
The Health Ministry said 79 people either sought medical treatment or were taken to hospital.
At least three buildings in Yuli have collapsed, including one that had a 7-Eleven store on the ground floor.
Video footage broadcast by Taiwan’s Central News Agency showed panicked residents running towards the building, sending out a thick cloud of dust as it collapsed.
The Hualien Fire Department said four people who were trapped in the building were rescued.
The administration added that two other buildings in the town collapsed, and no one was inside. Two nearby bridges collapsed and two others were damaged.
Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) said a train derailed at Dongli Station in Hualien City after being hit by concrete from an overhead canopy that was released during the earthquake.
The Communications Regulatory Authority said that 20 passengers on board were evacuated, and there were no reports of injuries.
The shaking was felt in the capital, Taipei, and the southwestern city of Kaohsiung, as residents posted videos of chandeliers and paintings swinging on social media.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen urged people to beware of further aftershocks of the quake.
“Water and electricity supply in some areas affected by the earthquake,” she wrote on Facebook. ‘Related disaster relief work is in full swing.’
– Broken bridge and pool waves –
Many have expressed the kind of resilience that comes with living on an island that experiences frequent earthquakes.
In a video posted online, a man said he was trapped on a bridge as the road at either end collapsed into a crooked mess of asphalt and concrete.
He could be heard saying, “This is annoying.” The whole bridge is broken.
Ou Chin Te shared snapshots of the swimming pool on the 60th floor of The One – Kaohsiung’s skyscraper and the fourth tallest building in Taiwan.
The tremors turned the pond into an oscillating mass of waves.
“When the earthquake hit, the rescuer screamed to get out and we all left the pond,” he told AFP.
Map of Taiwan locating the epicenter of the 6.9-magnitude earthquake on September 18
“Everyone was really scared. I was so scared right now that I didn’t really know what to do.”
A 6.6-magnitude earthquake hit the same area on Saturday and there have been several tremors since then, with minor damage in a sparsely populated mountainous countryside.
But Sunday’s earthquake was stronger.
The China Earthquake Network Center said tremors were felt in coastal areas including Fujian, Guangdong, Jiangsu and Shanghai.
Taiwan lies on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches across Southeast Asia and across the Pacific Basin.
Most of Taiwan’s population lives on the flat western coast and in the capital, Taipei.
The picturesque east coast is more remote and less populated but is a major tourist attraction.
There are few international tourists in Taiwan these days because the island is maintaining a mandatory Covid quarantine for most arrivals.
Taiwan regularly experiences earthquakes, most of which cause minor damage, but the island also has a long history of deadly tremors.
Hualien City, a tourist hot spot, was hit by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake in 2018, killing 17 people and injuring nearly 300 others.
In September 1999, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake killed about 2,400 people in the deadliest natural disaster in the island’s history.