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Massive 7.5 Earthquakes Hits Taiwan, Triggers Tsunami Warnings


A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.4 struck off the eastern coast of Taiwan early Wednesday morning, causing widespread panic and triggering tsunami warnings across the Pacific region. The United States Geological Survey pinpointed the epicenter approximately 11 miles from Hualien City, Taiwan, unleashing a force that was felt across the entire island and resulted in substantial structural damage, including collapsed buildings.

A series of aftershocks followed the initial tremor, with a notable 6.5-magnitude earthquake adding to the turmoil shortly afterwards. The U.S. Tsunami Warning System promptly issued alerts, warning of potential hazardous tsunami waves for coasts within a 300 km radius of the epicentre, potentially affecting China, Taiwan, and Japan. In response, Japan issued a tsunami alert for its southern island group of Okinawa, forecasting waves up to 3 meters (approximately 9.8 feet) and reporting the arrival of the first wave on the coasts of Miyako and Yaeyama islands within the hour.

The quake, occurring at 7:58 a.m. local time, had far-reaching impacts, with reports of buildings in Hualien City being dislodged from their foundations. The disaster prompted an immediate suspension of island-wide train services and subway operations in Taipei, despite the capital being located on the opposite side of the island from the quake’s epicentre. The seismic activity was intense enough to displace items from shelves in Taipei, underscoring the quake’s power.

In a revision of the quake’s magnitude, Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring agency reported a magnitude of 7.2, contrasting with the USGS’s initial figure of 7.5 before settling on 7.4. This discrepancy highlights the challenges in accurately measuring the strength of such significant seismic events.

Images from Hualien, on the east coast of Taiwan close to the epicentre, showed a large glass-fronted building partially collapsed onto its frontImages from Hualien, on the east coast of Taiwan close to the epicentre, showed a large glass-fronted building partially collapsed onto its front

Images from Hualien, on the east coast of Taiwan close to the epicentre, showed a large glass-fronted building partially collapsed onto its front

The Japan Meteorological Agency’s tsunami warning for Miyakojima and Okinawa islands, coupled with Taiwan’s Central Weather Administration’s advisory, underscored the widespread nature of the threat, with expectations of waves reaching up to 3 meters. Residents in northern coastal areas of Taiwan were advised to evacuate to higher ground, though not all received the alert due to technical or logistical reasons.

Taiwan, situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, is no stranger to seismic activities, with a history marked by devastating earthquakes. The island experienced a tragic event in 1999 when a major quake claimed 2,400 lives. More recently, in 2018, a 6.2 magnitude quake near Hualien resulted in 17 deaths and over 300 injuries. Hualien County, with a population of about 300,000, is near the Taroko Gorge, a famed tourist spot, highlighting the potential for significant human and economic tolls from such natural disasters.



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