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Tuesday, April 16 2024
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7.4-Magnitude Quake Hits Taiwan, Tsunami Warnings Issued

Magnitude Quake
Photo Credit : NDTV

Tokyo: A powerful 7.4-magnitude tremor struck the eastern region of Taiwan early on Wednesday, triggering tsunami alerts not only for the island but also affecting parts of southern Japan and the Philippines.

Recorded just before 8:00 a.m. local time (0000 GMT) by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the quake’s epicenter was identified 18 kilometers (approximately 11 miles) south of Hualien City in Taiwan, with a depth measured at 34.8 kilometers.

Warnings for potential tsunami waves reaching up to three meters (about 10 feet) were issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency for several remote islands in the vicinity, including Miyakojima.

In response to the earthquake, Taiwanese officials dispatched tsunami warnings through text messages, advising those in coastal regions to exercise caution, undertake preventive measures, and stay alert to the risks posed by possible sudden wave increases.

The quake was distinctly felt throughout Taiwan, from Pingtung county in the south to Taipei in the north, as described by reporters from AFP who experienced strong tremors.

Taipei and its surrounding areas also experienced significant aftershocks, including one measured at a magnitude of 6.5 near Hualien, as reported by the local meteorological agency.

In Taipei, the subway system temporarily halted operations but resumed shortly within an hour. Additionally, local residents were advised to inspect their homes for gas leaks.

Hotel guest Kelvin Hwang recounted his experience during the quake, “I wanted to run out but I wasn’t dressed. That was so strong,” he said while seeking refuge on the ninth floor of a downtown hotel.

This event marks the most significant seismic activity the island has witnessed in decades. “This earthquake is particularly noticeable due to its shallow depth and proximity to land. Its effects were felt throughout Taiwan and on offshore islands,” noted Wu Chien-fu, the director of the Seismology Center at Taipei’s Central Weather Administration.

Wu highlighted the significance of this quake compared to past events, marking it as the strongest since the devastating 1999 earthquake that claimed approximately 2,400 lives, the deadliest in Taiwan’s recent history. He also cautioned the public about the potential for further significant tremors in the coming days and emphasized the importance of heeding warnings and being prepared for evacuation.

Taiwan is prone to seismic activity as it is situated near the confluence of two tectonic plates. Similarly, Japan experiences frequent earthquakes, with an average of 1,500 tremors annually.

Following the earthquake, tsunami warnings were also issued in the Philippines, urging evacuations in coastal regions of northern provinces due to anticipated high waves, as informed by the national seismological agency.

In Japan, immediate evacuations were urged through national broadcast warnings, emphasizing the urgency with messages like “Tsunami is coming. Please evacuate immediately,” urging people not to hesitate or return.

As a precaution, marine vessels in the Okinawa region were seen departing ports, and flights at Okinawa’s main airport were temporarily suspended, according to an official with the transport ministry.

The impact of earthquakes and the subsequent tsunamis they can trigger varies widely, influenced by factors such as the depth of the epicenter and its precise location, as well as the speed and scale of the tsunami waves.

Japan’s record for the most severe earthquake was set in March 2011 with a 9.0-magnitude quake off the northeast coast, leading to a devastating tsunami and a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant, marking it as Japan’s gravest post-war disaster and a significant nuclear event since Chernobyl. Additionally, Japan was struck by a major 7.5-magnitude earthquake on New Year’s Day of this year, resulting in over 230 fatalities, many due to the collapse of older buildings.

 

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