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Major earthquake strikes off Taiwan, killing 4 and injuring dozens

Taiwan's strongest earthquake in a quarter century rocked the island during the morning rush hour Wednesday, damaging buildings and highways and causing the deaths of four people.The quake also created a tsunami that washed ashore on southern Japanese islands.

Strongest quake in 25 years collapses buildings and triggers landslide

A building is tilted after an earthquake

Taiwan's strongest earthquake in a quarter century rocked the island during the morning rush hour Wednesday, damaging buildings and highways and causing the deaths of four people. The quake also created a tsunami that washed ashore on southern Japanese islands.

It struck just before 8 a.m. local time, about 18 kilometres southwest of Hualien, on the other side of the island from the capital Taipei, and was about 35 kilometres deep.

Taiwan's national fire agency said four people died in Hualien County — a mountainous, sparsely populated area — and at least 57 were injured. The local United Daily News reported three hikers died in rockslides in Taroko National Park near the offshore epicentre.

At least 26 buildings have collapsed, more than half in Hualien, though in one of the worst damaged ones 22 people were rescued with only one missing, the fire department said.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) put the quake at 7.4, revised from a preliminary magnitude of 7.5, while Taiwan's earthquake monitoring agency gave the magnitude as 7.2.

Several aftershocks ranging in magnitude from 5.2 to 6.4 followed the initial quake, according to the USGS.

A view of a landslide on the side of a mountain following an earthquake.

A five-storey building in Hualien appeared heavily damaged, collapsing its first floor and leaving the rest leaning at a 45-degree angle. In the capital Taipei, tiles fell from older buildings and in some newer office complexes, while debris fell from some building sites.

Train service was suspended across the island of 23 million people, as was subway service in Taipei, where a newly constructed above-ground line partially separated. The national legislature, a converted school built before World War II, also had damage to walls and ceilings.

Traffic along the east coast was at a virtual standstill, with landslides and falling debris hitting tunnels and highways in the mountainous region. Those caused damage to vehicles, though it wasn't clear if anyone was hurt.

Videos shared on social media showed a landslide in Xiulin, about 45 kilometres to the north of Hualien, after the earthquake hit.

Schools evacuated their students to sports fields, equipping them with protective yellow head coverings.

Many small children also wore motorcycle helmets to guard against falling objects amid continuing aftershocks.

Despite the quake striking at the height of the morning rush hour, there was little panic on the island that is regularly rocked by temblors and holds drills at schools and issues notices via public media and mobile phone.

Schools and government offices were given the option of cancelling work and classes.

WATCH | TV newsroom shakes during quake:

Taipei newsroom shakes intensely after earthquake

6 hours ago

Duration 0:27

Video obtained by Reuters shows TV monitors inside a Taipei newsroom shaking following a strong earthquake that struck off Taiwan.

The earthquake was felt in Shanghai and several provinces along China's southeastern coast, according to Chinese media. China and Taiwan are about 160 kilometres apart. China issued no tsunami warnings for the Chinese mainland.

Residents of China's Fujian province reported violent shaking, according to Jimu News, an online outlet. One man told Jimu that the shaking awakened him and lasted about a minute.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) lowered its tsunami alerts after initially forecasting tsunami waves up to three metres for the southern Japanese island group of the Okinawa prefecture.

The agency said a tsunami wave of 30 centimetres was detected on the coast of Yonaguni island, approximately 111 kilometres off Taiwan's east coast, about 15 minutes after the quake struck.

Smaller waves were measured in Ishigaki and Miyako islands. Japan sent military aircraft to gather information about the impact around the Okinawa region.

A map is shown

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said there has been no report of injury or damage in Japan. He urged the residents in the Okinawa region to stay on high ground until all tsunami advisories are lifted. He cautioned people against disinformation and urged them to stay calm and assist others.

Japan's Self Defence Forces sent aircraft to gather information about the tsunami impact around the Okinawa region and were preparing shelters for evacuees if necessary.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said there was no tsunami threat to Hawaii, the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam the U.S. west coast or British Columbia.

The quake was believed to be the biggest in Taiwan since a temblor in 1999 caused extensive damage.

Taiwan's worst quake in recent years struck on Sept. 21, 1999, with a magnitude of 7.7, causing 2,400 deaths, injuring around 100,000 and destroying thousands of buildings.

Taiwan lies along the Pacific "Ring of Fire," the line of seismic faults encircling the Pacific Ocean where most of the world's earthquakes occur.

Emergency workers stand in front of a damaged building that is tilted on it's side.

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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