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Taiwan earthquake updates: Nine dead, hundreds injured in 7.4 magnitude quake

Written by on April 3, 2024

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(NEW YORK) — At least nine people were killed and more than 800 others were injured on Wednesday in the most powerful earthquake to strike Taiwan in 25 years, the Taiwanese government said.

The 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit just before 8 a.m. local time, with an epicenter near Hualien, a city on the eastern coast. More than 100 aftershocks, including one with a preliminary magnitude of 6.5, also near Hualien, have struck the island, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The nine deaths were all in Hualien, according to Taiwan’s National Fire Agency and the EMIC in Taipei. Another 127 people were believed to have been trapped under rubble, authorities said, adding that they’d had contact with only two of those who were missing.

The number of injured rose throughout the day, as authorities collected information about the destruction.

At noon, emergency personnel said there were 57 injuries reported across the island. By 2 p.m., the number of injuries climbed to 711, emergency officials said. The figure jumped to 821 by the time authorities released their 4:30 p.m. update.

At least 317 of the injured were in Taipei and New Taipei City, cities about 80 to 100 miles from the epicenter, officials said.

A five-story house and another building in Hualien collapsed. A seven-decade-old low-rise house in Keelung and at least one other building in Taipei were said to have falling debris.

Other reported damage included nine sections of local highways and 11 roads with falling stones or cracked pavements.

The metro system and high-speed rail were suspended. The highways in northern Yiland and eastern Hualien were shut off as a precautionary measure, according to the Taiwanese Highway Bureau.

There have been three small tsunamis reported on islands between Japan’s main island and Taiwan. All Tsunami warnings in Japan, though, have ended.

Six other quakes with a magnitude of 7 or greater have struck the area in the last 50 years, USGS officials said in a summary of the event.

“The largest of these was an M 7.7 earthquake in September 1999 (the Chi-Chi earthquake) that resulted in at least 2,297 fatalities, caused damage estimated at $14 billion, and occurred 59 km east of the April 2, 2024, event,” the USGS said.

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