Taiwan struck by 7.4 magnitude earthquake, prompting tsunami warning

A seismic event of 7.4 magnitude, accompanied by strong aftershocks, struck off the eastern coast of Taiwan on Wednesday morning. This incident caused significant damage to buildings, triggered landslides, and prompted tsunami alerts in both Taiwan and Japan.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake measured 7.4 in magnitude, occurring approximately 15 miles south of Hualien county just before 8 a.m. local time, while Taiwan’s Central Weather Administration recorded it at 7.2. Despite the discrepancy, it stands as the most powerful earthquake to hit Taiwan in a quarter-century, with tremors felt in parts of Japan and China as well.

Authorities in Hualien county suspended work and school activities in the aftermath of the earthquake. Images circulating on social media depicted tilted and partially collapsed structures, along with reports of landslides in the affected area. Residents were urged to seek nearby cover, crouch down, and remain calm.

The quake disrupted transportation systems, leaving commuters stranded in train cars in Taipei and New Taipei City as both the high-speed rail and metro services were halted. Taiwan, a crucial hub for advanced computer chip manufacturing, saw some operations at companies like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) suspended.

Tsunami warnings were issued for coastal regions of Taiwan, while Japanese officials advised residents in the southwestern Okinawa island chain to evacuate to higher ground. On Yonaguni Island, part of the Okinawa chain, an 11-inch tsunami struck 20 minutes after the initial quake, with expectations of more tsunamis, possibly intensifying.

Local officials cautioned that tsunamis as high as 10 feet could impact the main Okinawa island, drawing parallels to the devastating tsunamis that followed a major earthquake in Japan in March 2011, leading to a nuclear meltdown and one of the worst nuclear disasters in history.

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