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Magnitude 7.2 earthquake strikes off eastern Taiwan

04/03/2024 08:39 AM
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Hualien County. CNA photo April 3, 2024
Hualien County. CNA photo April 3, 2024

Taiwan has been hit by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake off its eastern coast. The entire island was given a good shake, with some severe damage already reported in Hualien County.

We are now ending the live portion of our coverage of Taiwan's biggest earthquake in 25 years, but please continue to follow the stories and videos being posted on our website on developments related to the earthquake.

Here are live updates here on the earthquake and its impact for the morning and into the afternoon.

Update

April 8

● A true scout: How Greek national led others to safety in Taroko Gorge

● Hualien could lose NT$5.3 billion in April tourism income after quake

● Turkish rescuer workers assist Taiwan's quake relief efforts

April 7

● Donations for quake relief top NT$116.84 million as rescue effort continues

● Filipino envoy visits Hualien, expresses Manila's sympathy over quake

April 6:Bolivia expressing concern to China over Taiwan quake 'serious mistake': MOFA

April 5:Earthquake survivor's horrifying account: Rocks falling like bullets

April 4:Over 360 aftershocks strike Taiwan following magnitude 7.2 quake

April 3: Taiwan earthquake island's strongest in 25 years: CWA

4:14 p.m.

127 aftershocks

As of 3:52 p.m., a total of 127 aftershocks have hit Taiwan since a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck off the island's coast at 7:58 a.m., according to Central Weather Administration data.

There were two aftershocks of magnitudes over 6 in the morning, but the strongest aftershock in the afternoon to 3:52 p.m was a magnitude 4.9 temblor north of where the mainshock occurred.

A total of 27 of the 42 aftershocks occurring since 1:30 p.m. after have been between magnitudes of 3.1 to 3.9.

4:01 p.m.

Three more reported dead in earthquake

The death toll from Wednesday's earthquake has increased to at least seven people dead, along with 711 people injured, as of 3 p.m., according to central and local officials.

The three newly reported fatalities include one person in Taroko National Park (on Provincial Highway 8), who died while involved in slope maintenance work; one person in a car in the Huide Tunnel parking lot on the Suhua Highway; and one individual in the Taiwan Cement Corp. Renhe mining area, the Hualien police said.

All three fatalities were caused by falling rocks, officials said.

3:54 p.m.

Earthquake part of 60-100 cycle: Academic

Wednesday's earthquake may have been part of a 60-100 year cycle of major earthquakes to hit off the coast of Hualien County, according to Ma Kuo-fong (馬國鳳), a distinguished research fellow at Academia Sinica's Institute of Earth Sciences.

Ma said that in 1920 there was a magnitude 8 earthquake off the Hualien coast around the Ryukyu Trench, which stretches from eastern Taiwan to southern Japan, and earthquakes of a magnitude 7 or above can occur cyclically every 60-100 years based on the 1920 experience.

Vice President Lai Ching-te (front, fourth left) inspects the area where one of the damaged buildings in Hualien County Wednesday afternoon. CNA photo April 3, 2024
Vice President Lai Ching-te (front, fourth left) inspects the area where one of the damaged buildings in Hualien County Wednesday afternoon. CNA photo April 3, 2024

3:29 p.m.

Power almost fully restored

According to the latest update from Taiwan's state-run utility Taiwan Power Company, a total of 371,275 households lost power after the earthquake hit Taiwan, but 99 percent of them, or 367,797 households, have had their power restored as of 2:30 p.m. A total of 3,478 households remain without power, of which 2,422 are located in Hualien County.

3:08 p.m.

Woman rescuing cat trapped in building

A woman in Hualien is trapped between the first and second floors of her apartment, and signs that she is still alive have been detected, according to Interior Minister Lin Yu-chang (林右昌).

He said surveillance footage showed that the woman got out of her building during the main earthquake at 7:58 a.m., but ran back in to save her pet, identified by neighbors as a cat, at 8:11 a.m., and the building partially collapsed and tilted to one side just 15 seconds later.

According to the Central Weather Administration, a magnitude 6.5 aftershock hit at 8:11 a.m., but it was not clear if that caused the partial collapse.

2:47 p.m.

Latest injury tally

The Central Emergency Operation Center has updated the injury count from the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit Taiwan on Wednesday to 711 as of 2 p.m., but the number of dead remains at four.

Of the 711 injured, 174 were in New Taipei, 143 were in Taipei, and 132 were in Hualien. No further details on the nature of the injuries were provided.

2:15 p.m.

Three slightly injured at airport in quake

The Taoyuan International Airport Corporation said the airport has set up an emergency response center in the wake of the earthquake. It said it is generally operating normally but noted that there was some damage from the earthquake to terminal floors, walls, and sprinkler heads.

Two outbound Taiwanese nationals and one inbound Vietnamese traveler were hit by falling objects and bruised during the earthquake, but continued their travel.

The airport's elevators are back to normal use after being checked for damage, as have its check-in counters and terminal trams.

Travelers take photo of a screen showing how Taoyuan Airport MRT services were affected by the earthquake on Wednesday. CNA photo April 3, 2024
Travelers take photo of a screen showing how Taoyuan Airport MRT services were affected by the earthquake on Wednesday. CNA photo April 3, 2024

Okinawa airport, Taiwan flights affected by earthquake

The main airport in Okinawa, Naha Airport, was temporarily closed Wednesday morning because of a tsunami warning issued in the wake of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that occurred off Taiwan's eastern coast. It resumed normal operations at 12:44 p.m.

Several flights from Okinawa to Taoyuan International Airport scheduled to leave Wednesday morning or early in the afternoon, including Tigerair Taiwan flight IT231, EVA Air flight BR113, China Airlines flight CI121 and Peach Aviation flight MM925, all saw their departures delayed by more than two hours.

Peach also canceled its flight MM927 to Taoyuan scheduled to leave Okinawa at 4:45 p.m.

2:34 p.m.

● Hualien earthquake leaves 4 dead, 57 injured

1:17 p.m.

Further update on casualties

Hualien County has been hit the hardest by the earthquake. At least 44 people there have been injured and the four deaths recorded in Taiwan also occurred in Hualien County.

Three of deaths were hikers who were struck by falling rocks on the Dekalun Trail at the entry to Taroko Gorge, including the two earlier found without any vital signs.

The other was a truck driver who was injured when falling rocks struck his truck near the Daqingshui Tunnel on the Suhua Highway.

Photo courtesy of a private contributor April 3, 2024
Photo courtesy of a private contributor April 3, 2024
Vehicles hit by falling rocks on a county road in Miaoli County Wednesday. CNA photo April 3, 2024
Vehicles hit by falling rocks on a county road in Miaoli County Wednesday. CNA photo April 3, 2024

12:56 p.m.

Still some households without power (15:32 p.m. Power almost fully restored: Taipower)

According to Taiwan's state-run utility, a total of 354,534 households lost power after the earthquake hit Taiwan, but 95 percent of them, or 342,968 households, have had their power restored as of 11:30 a.m. A total of 11,566 households remain without power. It did not say where those households were located.

Daqingshui Tunnel. Photo courtesy of a private contributor April 3, 2024
Daqingshui Tunnel. Photo courtesy of a private contributor April 3, 2024

Latest injury tally

The magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit Taiwan on Wednesday has left four people dead and 57 injured as of 12 noon, according to the latest figures complied by the Central Emergency Operation Center.

East Coast road closings

Falling rocks have blocked both northbound and southbound traffic on Provincial Highway 11, also known as the Hualien-Taitung Coastal Highway, shutting down sections of the roadway.

Most of the new and old Suhua Highway have been shut down as well because of landslides and rockslides. The section from Suao to Chongde on Provincial Highway 9 (the new highway) and from Suao to Daqingshui on Provincial Highway 9D (the old highway) are currently closed to traffic.

The section from Dayuling to Taroko on the Central Cross-Island Highway (Provincial Highway 8) is also closed to traffic.

Photo courtesy of a private contributor April 3, 2024
Photo courtesy of a private contributor April 3, 2024

12:21 p.m.

2 Taroko Gorge hikers without signs of life

Three hikers trapped on the Dekalun Trail at the entrance to Taroko Gorge have been rescued but two were found without vital signs after being hit by falling rocks on the trail.

The Taroko National Park administration said many roads within the park have been cut off, with many people unable to get into or out of the park, including those who have parked near or are hiking on trails, including the Shakadeng trail.

Photo courtesy of Taroko National Park Headquarters April 3, 2024
Photo courtesy of Taroko National Park Headquarters April 3, 2024

Taipei school cancellations

As of 11:30 a.m., a total of six schools in Taipei have canceled classes, according to Taipei's Department of Education of the Taipei City Government, including Da-an Vocational High School and Taipei JingMei Girls High School. Of the six, the Affiliated Senior High School of National Taiwan Normal University sent some students home because some of its buildings were found to be damaged.

The education department said schools can decide on their own whether to stop classes if necessary.

12:06 a.m.

Greater Taipei MRT system update

Though most of the main Taipei Metro has returned to normal, there are still sections of the circular line in the Taipei suburbs where service remains suspended.

The New Taipei Metro department said some of the track on the Taipei Circular line between Zhongyuan Station and Jingan Station was knocked out of alignment because of the earthquake. Trains in transit during the earthquake stopped automatically let passengers out safely, and the circular line remains suspended until all safety checks have been completed, the department said.

A section of the Circular Line (Yellow Line) in New Taipei's Zhonghe District. CNA photo April 3, 2024
A section of the Circular Line (Yellow Line) in New Taipei's Zhonghe District. CNA photo April 3, 2024
A section of the Circular Line (Yellow Line) in New Taipei's Zhonghe District. CNA photo April 3, 2024
A section of the Circular Line (Yellow Line) in New Taipei's Zhonghe District. CNA photo April 3, 2024
A section of the Circular Line (Yellow Line) in New Taipei's Zhonghe District. CNA photo April 3, 2024
A section of the Circular Line (Yellow Line) in New Taipei's Zhonghe District. CNA photo April 3, 2024

11:56 a.m.

Damaged buildings in National Hualien Girls' High School

Photo courtesy of a private contributor April 3, 2024
Photo courtesy of a private contributor April 3, 2024
Photo courtesy of a private contributor April 3, 2024
Photo courtesy of a private contributor April 3, 2024
Photo courtesy of a private contributor April 3, 2024
Photo courtesy of a private contributor April 3, 2024

11:46 a.m.

New Taipei: Person trapped in Zhonghe warehouse rescued

Wednesday's earthquake brought down a warehouse in Zhonghe District in New Taipei City. The city's fire department said it was informed of the collapse of the warehouse on Liancheng Road at 8:08 a.m. and rescued four people. The last person was freed at around 11 a.m. after being trapped for hours.

Another building on Antai Road in New Taipei's Xindian saw its foundation sink due to the earthquake. The fire department said a total of 12 people have been rescued, and nobody was injured.

A man is rescued from the collapsed site in New Taipei Wednesday. CNA photo April 3, 2024
A man is rescued from the collapsed site in New Taipei Wednesday. CNA photo April 3, 2024

11:41 a.m.

Taoyuan airport update

The Taoyuan International Airport Corporation said it has suspended its in-town check-in service at the Taoyuan Airport MRT A1 Taipei Main Station and A3 New Taipei Industrial Park stations, as MRT service remains spotty, with trains running at slower than normal speeds.

Taipei Metro update

The Taipei Metro system's Wenhu Line (Brown Line), which was temporarily out of service due to the earthquake, returned to service at 9:58 a.m. Service on all of the other lines returned to normal at 9:02 a.m.

TSMC update
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world's largest contract chipmaker, has suspended the operations of some of its production lines and evacuated some of its workers in its facilities located in the Hsinchu Science Park.

11:12 a.m.

Two buildings in downtown Hualien City partially collapsed and tilted as a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit at 7:58 a.m. Wednesday, including one in which the residents remain trapped.

Rescue operations are ongoing after local firefighters and police rushed to the scene on the intersection of Zhongshan and Chongqing roads.

Aftershocks have continued during the rescue process, causing nearby residents to flee their homes and stay outside.

Hualien County
A security guard checks the Liberty Square arch after bricks falling from it in Taipei Wednesday. CNA photo April 3, 2024
A security guard checks the Liberty Square arch after bricks falling from it in Taipei Wednesday. CNA photo April 3, 2024
Image taken from Central Weather Administration website
Image taken from Central Weather Administration website

Taipei, April 3 (CNA) A magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck off the coast of Hualien County in eastern Taiwan at 7:58 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Central Weather Administration (CWA).

The epicenter of the temblor was located in the Pacific Ocean, 25.0 kilometers south-southeast of Hualien County Hall, at a depth of 15.5 km, according to the administration's Seismology Center.

The CWA said the strong quake has caused changes in water levels off the coast.

The earthquake's intensity, which gauges the actual effect of a seismic event, was highest in Hualien, where it measured a 6+ on Taiwan's 7-tier intensity scale, the CWA said.

An intensity level of 5+ was reported in Yilan County in the northeast and in Miaoli County in the north, while 5- was reported in Taipei City, New Taipei City, Taoyuan City and Hsinchu County in the north, Taichung City, Changhua County and Nantou County in central Taiwan, the CWA added.

People around Taiwan felt the intensity of the strong earthquake.

Due to the temblor, metro systems in Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung have been suspended and the suspension is expected to last 40 to 60 minutes.

(By Chang Ming-kun and Frances Huang)

Enditem

Image taken from Central Weather Administration website
Image taken from Central Weather Administration website
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