Fatalities increase to 4, and 97 people injured in devastating 7.5 magnitude earthquake in Hualien, Taiwan

637
A rockfall hit and killed a driver on the Suhua Highway.

3rd April 2024 – (Taipei) This morning, a devastating earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale struck off the coast of Hualien, Taiwan. The epicentre was located 25 kilometres southeast of Hualien, at a shallow depth of 12 kilometres, indicating a strong surface impact. Following the initial quake, Taiwan experienced at least 10 subsequent aftershocks, with two significant ones measuring 6.5 and 5.6 magnitudes at 8.11am. and 8.35am, respectively. The earthquake has tragically claimed the lives of at least four individuals and left 97 injured.

Among the affected areas, a popular tourist attraction, the Taroko Gorge Trail in Hualien, was struck by falling rocks. At the time of the incident, the trail was crowded with visitors. Three people have been confirmed dead, while more than 40 others sustained injuries. Immediate evacuations were carried out, ensuring the safety of over a hundred individuals at the scene.

Three people have been confirmed dead, while more than 40 others sustained injuries.

The earthquake caused widespread shaking throughout Taiwan, lasting over a minute. Taipei City experienced strong tremors, leading to power outages in some areas and the complete suspension of the metro and high-speed rail services. In Hualien, a five-story building on Beibin Street tilted and collapsed onto the road surface, causing a restaurant on the ground floor, “Happy Moments Brunch,” to be completely obliterated. The once vibrant red roof now lay pressed against the ground, while nearby vehicles came to an abrupt halt as people screamed in fear. Additionally, a ten-story apartment building near the old train station also leaned precariously, prompting the evacuation of over a hundred residents.

The earthquake’s impact extended beyond Hualien. Zhu’nan Town in Miaoli County experienced a seismic intensity of 5, while Miaoli City recorded a magnitude of 4. In Zhu’nan Town, three individuals were injured by falling objects, and in Houlung Town, one person was accidentally injured while seeking shelter. A rescue operation successfully saved six individuals trapped in the Miaoli County Government Building. In T’ai-an Township, rocks fell onto Route 61, damaging four vehicles, fortunately without causing any casualties.

The Taiwan Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning. In mainland China, cities such as Xiamen, Fuzhou, Shenzhen, and Hangzhou reported tremors. The Ministry of Natural Resources’ Tsunami Warning Center issued a Level I (Red) tsunami alert. The Japan Meteorological Agency also issued tsunami warnings for Miyako Island and Okinawa Island, predicting waves up to three meters high. The alerts were lifted around noon local time. The Philippines also issued a tsunami warning, affecting 23 regions, urging coastal residents to evacuate to higher ground. The Ministry of Natural Resources later announced the cancellation of the tsunami warning, stating that the tsunami hazard had largely subsided. The Tsunami Warning Center will continue to monitor seismic and tsunami data and provide timely updates.

The Taiwan Central Weather Administration stated that this was the largest earthquake since the 7.3 magnitude earthquake in Taichung in September 1999. There is a possibility of more earthquakes with a magnitude of 7 or higher in the next three days. National-level alerts were issued in 12 counties and cities, although some residents reported not receiving the warnings. The Central Weather Bureau is currently investigating the cause of the communication issue.