Strong Earthquake Hits Taiwan, Tsunami Warning for Japan

Early Wednesday, April 3rd, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 shook the island of Taiwan, causing nine deaths, hundreds of injuries, and the collapse of structures. The earthquake also triggered a short tsunami warning for the islands in southern Japan.

According to Taiwan’s fire service, the earthquake’s epicenter was in Hualien, where nine people have perished and more than 800 people were injured.  Authorities lost communication with 50 individuals on four mini-buses en route to a lodge in a national park.

The 23 million people who live on the island had their train transportation cut off.

More than half of the 26 structures have fallen in Hualien.  A five-story structure was severely damaged, with the ground level falling and the other floors sagging at an angle of 45 degrees. The government said rescue efforts were ongoing for the over 80 individuals trapped in rubble. According to fire officials, some sixty individuals became trapped in a tunnel north of the city.  Officials from the department said that they were gradually rescuing victims.

Reports indicate that aftershocks of various magnitudes were detected. On Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that 29 aftershocks with a magnitude of 4.9 or higher were felt close to Hualien. The Central Weather Administration in Taiwan has recorded many more. The US Geological Survey reported an aftershock of 6.5 at a depth of 7.8 miles.

According to a public television station in Japan, coastal communities in the Miyakojima and Yaeyama districts of southwestern Japan and the island of Okinawa were all given a tsunami warning. The alert was later lowered to the advisory level.

Many claimed this earthquake was the worst in Taiwan since a powerful tremor in 1999.

Taiwan is near the Ring of Fire, a network of faultlines that encircles the Pacific Ocean and is responsible for 90 percent of the world’s earthquakes. About 24,900 miles long, it follows the tectonic boundary of several plates, including the North American, Pacific, Cocos, Indian-Australian, Juan de Fuca, Nazca, and Philippine plates.