Taiwan eyeing partnership with Manila on earthquake prevention: CWB

04/18/2020 05:38 PM
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A seismometer at the CWB. (CNA file photo)
A seismometer at the CWB. (CNA file photo)

Taipei, April 18 (CNA) Taiwan is hoping to work with the Philippines in installing an 800-kilometer submarine cable between the two countries to better detect seismic movement near the Manila Trench, Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said Saturday.

The underwater cable would stretch from Fangshan Township in Pingtung County in southern Taiwan to central Luzon and would become the first earthquake and tsunami observation system shared by Taiwan and a foreign country, said CWB Director-General Yeh Tien-chiang (葉天降).

If the project goes ahead, the cable and six underwater observation stations would be installed between 2021 and 2024 at a cost of NT$2.6 billion (US$86.2 million).

The system is expected to improve the CWB's disaster mitigation capabilities by helping the bureau detect and warn of an earthquake earlier and locate its position, Yeh said.

The project, which is currently being reviewed by the National Development Council, has received support from the Philippines in earlier discussions at a technical level, but the two sides have not finalized how the project's budget would be divided, the CWB said.

The bureau did not give any indication of if and when talks with Manila would be held to finalize the project.

Yeh said the collaboration is crucial because the trench generates a massive earthquake at least every 200 years that would cause severe damage to southern Taiwan and Luzon.

Chen Kuo-chang (陳國昌), director of the CWB's Seismology Center, said the last time a major earthquake erupted along the trench was almost 400 years ago, and it therefore poses a potential threat to the two countries.

Historically speaking, magnitude 8 earthquakes occur in the region roughly every 200 years, while magnitude 8.5 and 9 temblors could happen every 350 and 700 years, respectively, Chen said.

The longer the period of inactivity from the last earthquake, the more likely it is that the new one will be even stronger, he said.

A massive earthquake near the Manila Trench, which stretches from Taiwan's southeastern coast down the western coast of Luzon to the island of Mindoro, would cause a tsunami 10-15 meters high around Luzon and seven meters high near Pingtung, he said.

(By Wang Shu-fen and Lee Hsin-Yin)

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