Strong earthquake hits Taiwan with tsunami alert triggered in Japan


A partially collapsed building in Hualien, eastern Taiwan

A partially collapsed building in Hualien, eastern Taiwan – TVBS

An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 has struck off the coast of Taiwan, triggering a tsunami warning in Japan that has forced thousands of people to urgently evacuate.

Taiwanese media has reported that people are trapped inside collapsed buildings in the eastern city of Hualien.

Television images showed buildings Hualien shaken off their foundations while Taiwan’s electricity operator said 87,000 people across the country are without power.

The strong earthquake, which struck at 7.58am local time (12.58am UK) on Wednesday morning, was felt as far away as Shanghai, is reported locally to have caused a landslide in eastern Taiwan, though this has not been confirmed by The Telegraph.

The quake has caused a tsunami, which could be up to 3 metres (30ft) high and is expected to reach Japan’s southwestern Okinawa coast shortly.

Building lurched to their side in Hualien following the massive earthquakeBuilding lurched to their side in Hualien following the massive earthquake

Building lurched to their side in Hualien following the massive earthquake – TVBS

A tsunami of about 0.3 metres (1ft) has already reached Yonaguni Island, in south-west Japan.

An alert was issued for the coastal areas of Japan near the southern prefecture of Okinawa, with residents told to leave urgently.

‘Evacuate! Do not stop. Do not go back’

A banner on Japanese national broadcaster NHK told viewers to “Evacuate!”

“Tsunami is coming. Please evacuate immediately,” an anchor on NHK said. “Do not stop. Do not go back.”

The Philippines has also issued a tsunami warning to residents on northern coast, warning 23 provinces where it said “high tsunami waves” were expected to hit that “may continue for hours”.

A man checks a partially collapsed building in Hualien for survivors . . .A man checks a partially collapsed building in Hualien for survivors . . .

A man checks a partially collapsed building in Hualien for survivors . . . – TVBS

. . . before pulling a child to safety through a window. . . before pulling a child to safety through a window

. . . before pulling a child to safety through a window – TVBS

Japan’s meteorological agency described the earthquake as very shallow, which can cause significant damage. It was measured at a magnitude of about 7.2 but this was revised up to 7.7 by the agency.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake’s epicentre was 11 miles (18km) south of Taiwan’s Hualien City at a depth of about 21 miles.

Live TV footage from the Okinawa region’s ports, including Naha, showed vessels heading out to sea, possibly in efforts to protect their ships.

Flights have been suspended at Naha airport in Okinawa.

‘Strongest earthquake in 25 years’

Taiwan is regularly hit by earthquakes because the island lies near the junction of two tectonic plates.

The earthquake was “the strongest in 25 years”, according to Wu Chien-fu the director of Taipei’s Seismology Centre. referring to a 7.6-magnitude quake that hit Taiwan in September 1999, killing around 2,400 people in the deadliest natural disaster in the island’s history.

A five-story building in 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 during an aftershock.

The world’s largest producer of advanced chips, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, has evacuated some factory areas.

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.

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world’s most seismically active areas. Japan accounts for about one-fifth of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

The country was rocked by its deadliest quake in eight years on New Year’s Day when a 7.6-magnitude quake struck in Ishikawa prefecture, on the western coast. More than 230 people died in the quake that left 44,000 homes fully or partially destroyed.

On March 11, 2011, the northeast coast was struck by a magnitude 9 earthquake, the strongest quake in Japan on record, and a massive tsunami. Those events triggered a nuclear accident at the Fukushima plant, the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl a quarter of a century earlier.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated


02:14 AM BST

What we know so far

  • Earthquake with magnitude of 7.2 strikes off coast of Taiwan

  • Tsunami warning issued on southwestern coast of Japan

  • Eastern Taiwanese city of Hualien seems to be worst affected with reports of collapsed buildings

  • Quake hit at 7.58am local time (12.58am UK)

  • Tsunami could be 3 metres high, according to Japanese officials

  • Okinawa residents told: “Evacuate! Tsunami is coming. Please evacuate immediately. Do not stop. Do not go back”



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