A strong earthquake rocks Taiwan, collapsing buildings and causing a tsunami

By AP staff (AP)
TAIPEI, Taiwan April 3, 2024 12:47 a.m. Updated: April 3, 2024 1:10 a.m.

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.

A five-story building in lightly populated Hualien appeared heavily damaged, collapsing its first floor and leaving the rest leaning at a 45-degree angle. In the capital, Taipei, tiles fell from older buildings and within some newer office complexes.

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Train service was suspended across the island of 23 million people, as was subway service in Taipei. But things quickly returned to normal in the capital, with children going to school and the morning commute appearing to be normal.

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Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring agency gave the magnitude as 7.2 while the U.S. Geological Survey put it at 7.4. It struck at 7:58 a.m. about 18 kilometers south-southwest of Hualien and was about 35 kilometers (21 miles) deep.

The head of Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring bureau, Wu Chien-fu, said effects were detected as far away as Kinmen, a Taiwanese-controlled island off the coast of China. Multiple aftershocks were felt in Taipei in the hour after the initial quake.

The Japan Meteorological Agency forecast a tsunami of up to 3 meters (9.8 feet) for the southern Japanese island group of Okinawa. A wave of 30 centimeters (about 1 feet) 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.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no tsunami threat to Hawaii or the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.

The quake was believed to be the biggest in Taiwan since a temblor in 1999 caused extensive damage. Taiwan lies along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” the line of seismic faults encircling the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquake’s occur.

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