7.4-magnitude quake strikes off eastern Taiwan, prompting tsunami warning


A 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck off Taiwan’s east coast early Wednesday, triggering tsunami warnings.

President Tsai Ing-wen has ordered the military to be deployed in the affected areas.

“The national military will meet the needs of local governments and provide support to ensure the safety of the lives and property of the citizens,” Tsai said in a statement on her Facebook page.

An official from the president’s office told Anadolu by phone that the administration was still gathering details about the “rapidly developing situation.”

The US Geological Survey (USGS) announced that the epicenter of the quake was 18 kilometers (11 miles) south of the city of Hualien.

However, Taiwan’s Central Weather Administration (CWA) put the magnitude of the earthquake at 7.2, saying it struck off the coast of Hualien county in eastern Taiwan at 7:58 a.m. Wednesday (2358GMT Tuesday).

Some buildings in the city reportedly collapsed due to the quake, which occurred at a depth of 34.8 kilometers (21 miles).

The CWA also issued a tsunami warning for the northern regions of the island after the quake, which also triggered landslides.

Metro lines in the capital Taipei and the Taichung and Kaohsiung areas were briefly affected while people in coastal areas were preparing to be evacuated due to fears of high waves.

It is said to be the largest earthquake to have hit Taiwan since 1999, when a 7.3-magnitude quake jolted the island nation.

Schools in the affected areas have been suspended.

There are possibilities of recurring tremors over the next few days.

The earthquake triggered small tsunami waves which reached southwestern Japan, which has now lowered the alert over high waves.

“A small tsunami reached the islands of Yonaguni, Ishigaki and Miyako in Okinawa Prefecture,” said the Japan Meteorological Agency, warning about the possibility of a larger tsunami.

China said it was “highly concerned” following the earthquake.

Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, expressed “sincere condolences to the Taiwan compatriots affected by the disaster.”

“We will pay close attention to the disaster and subsequent situations and are willing to provide disaster relief assistance,” Zhu said.

Meanwhile, the Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has raised a tsunami warning over four areas in northern Luzon following the earthquake.

People in the Batanes group of islands, Cagayan, Ilocos Norte and Isabela were alerted about a possible tsunami and ordered to immediately evacuate to higher ground, according to the Philippine Star daily.

*Ahmet Faruk Mercan in Japan and Iclal Turan in Washington contributed to this report

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