Over-7 magnitude earthquake hits Taiwan, Japan with tsunami warnings issued
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Over-7 magnitude earthquake hits Taiwan, Japan with tsunami warnings issued

Over-7 magnitude earthquake hits Taiwan, Japan with tsunami warnings issued

The 7.5 magnitude earthquake impacted Japan, Philippines, Taiwan, and China with tsunami warnings issued

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An earthquake with preliminary magnitude of 7.5 struck off southwestern Japan and Taiwan in the early hours of Wednesday, April 3, according to local media reports.

A tsunami warning was issued for the coastal areas near the southern prefecture of Okinawa, reported Japanese broadcaster NHK.

At least four people had died and buildings collapsed due to the earthquake, the strongest to hit Taiwan in 25 years, reported local media.

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS) the affected countries include – Japan, Philippines, Taiwan, and China. The earthquake was measured at a depth of 15.5 kilometres, according to Taiwan’s Central Weather Administration.

Earthquake triggers tsunami warning

Japan issued a tsunami warning after the massive earthquake with waves of 0.3 metres reaching its coastline soon after.

The USGS issued an alert for additional quakes or aftershocks soon after the 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit Taiwan.

Injured and trapped

Taiwan’s biggest earthquake in at least 25 years killed nine people on Wednesday, injuring more than 800, while 50 went missing en route to a national park, authorities said, as rescuers used ladders to bring others to safety.

Television broadcast images of buildings tilted at precarious angles in the mountainous, sparsely populated eastern county of Hualien, near the epicentre of the 7.2 magnitude quake, which struck just offshore at about 8 a. m. (0000GMT).

“It was very strong. It felt as if the house was going to topple,” said Chang Yu-lin, 60, a worker in a hospital in Taipei, the capital.

A woman who runs bed-and-breakfast accommodation in Hualien city said she scrambled to calm her guests who were frightened by the quake.

“This is the biggest earthquake I have ever experienced,” said the woman, who asked to be identified only by her family name, Chan.

Video showed rescuers using ladders to help trapped people out of windows, while elsewhere there were massive landslides, as strong tremors in Taipei forced the subway system to close briefly, although most lines resumed service.

Fire authorities said they were slowly evacuating some of those trapped in tunnels near Hualien city, including two Germans.

But they had lost contact with 50 travellers aboard four minibuses heading to a hotel in a national park, Taroko Gorge, they said, without giving details.

The government put the number of injured at 821.

“At present the most important thing, the top priority, is to rescue people,” said President-elect Lai Ching-te, speaking outside one of the collapsed buildings in Hualien.

The rail link to the area was expected to re-open on Thursday, Lai, who is set to take office next month, told reporters.

Taiwan’s air force said six F-16 fighter jets had been slightly damaged at a major base in the city from which jets are often scrambled to see off incursions by China’s air force, but the aircraft are expected to return to service very soon.

In Japan, the weather agency put the quake’s magnitude at 7.7, saying several small tsunami waves reached parts of the southern prefecture of Okinawa, while downgrading its tsunami warning to an advisory.

Philippines

In the Philippines, seismology officials warned coastal residents in several provinces to move to higher ground.

Chinese state media said the quake was felt in the southeastern province of Fujian, while a Reuters witness said it was also felt in the commercial hub of Shanghai.

Aftershocks could still be felt in Taipei, with more than 50 recorded, weather officials said.

Most power has been restored after the quake, electricity utility Taipower said, with the island’s two nuclear power stations unaffected.

Taiwan’s high-speed rail operator said no damage or injuries were reported on its trains, although services would be delayed as it made inspections.

A major supplier of chips to Apple and Nvidia, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, said it had evacuated some fabrication plants and safety systems were operating normally.

“To ensure the safety of personnel, some fabs were evacuated according to company procedure,” the semiconductor giant said in a statement, adding later that the employees had begun to return to work.

TSMC’s Taipei-listed shares ended down 1.3 per cent, but the benchmark index .TWII largely brushed off the quake’s impact to close down 0.6%.

The official central news agency said the quake was the biggest since one of magnitude 7.6 in 1999 that killed about 2,400 people and damaged or destroyed 50,000 buildings.

Taiwan weather officials ranked Wednesday’s quake in Hualien as “Upper 6”, or the second-highest level of intensity on a scale ranging from 1 to 7.

This is a developing story.

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