Strong 7.5 magnitude earthquake strikes Hualien, Taiwan, at least 7 deaths and 711 injuries reported as of 2pm

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3rd April 2024 – (Taipei) As of 2pm, this afternoon, according to the Taiwan Central Emergency Operation Centre, the strong earthquake has caused 7 fatalities, 711 injuries, and 77 people trapped. The trapped individuals are primarily located in Hualien County.

The strong earthquake has led to three deaths from falling rocks on the Taroko National Park in Xiulin Township, Hualien, and one death on the Suhua Highway.

A total of 711 people have been injured throughout Taiwan, with 143 in Taipei City, 174 in New Taipei City, and 132 in Hualien County. There are 77 individuals currently trapped, and they are all located in Hualien County.

The earthquake shook Taiwan for over a minute, causing intense tremors throughout the country. Taipei City experienced strong vibrations, leading to power outages in some areas. The metro and high-speed train services were temporarily suspended. In Hualien, a five-story building on Beibin Street tilted and collapsed onto the road, causing a restaurant on the ground floor, to be completely buried. The once vibrant red rooftop now lay pressed against the ground, while vehicles along the roadside came to an immediate halt as terrified residents and onlookers screamed in fear. Additionally, a ten-story apartment building near the old train station also tilted, forcing more than a hundred residents to evacuate. In other regions, such as Zhunan Town in Miaoli County, multiple people were injured by falling objects, and in Houlung Town, an individual sustained injuries while seeking shelter. Six people were initially trapped in the Miaoli County Government building, but they have since been rescued. In Tai’an Township, rocks fell onto the Miaoli County Route 61, damaging four vehicles, fortunately without causing any casualties.

The Taiwan Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning. Mainland China cities, including Xiamen, Fuzhou, Shenzhen, and Hangzhou, reported tremors, prompting the National Tsunami Warning Center to issue a Level I (red) tsunami alert. The Japan Meteorological Agency also issued tsunami warnings for Miyako Island and Okinawa Island, expecting waves as high as three meters. The warnings were later lifted around noon. The Philippines also issued a tsunami alert for 23 coastal areas, urging residents to immediately evacuate to higher ground. The National Tsunami Warning Centre subsequently announced the cancellation of the tsunami alert, stating that the monitoring and analysis indicated the end of the tsunami threat. The centre will continue to monitor seismic and tsunami data and provide timely updates.

The Taiwan Central Weather Administration stated that this was the most significant earthquake since the 7.3 magnitude quake that struck Taichung on 21st September, 1999. It further warned of the possibility of more earthquakes with magnitudes reaching 7 in the next three days. National-level alerts were issued in 12 cities and counties; however, some residents reported not receiving the alerts, prompting the weather bureau to investigate the cause.