Magnitude 7.5 quake strikes Taiwan, triggering tsunami alert for Okinawa

A magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck Taiwan on Wednesday morning, shaking buildings off their foundations and prompting Japan to issue a tsunami alert for its southern island of Okinawa.

The epicenter of the quake, which struck at 7:58 a.m., was off the eastern coast of Taiwan, about 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) south-southeast of Hualien County Hall, at a depth of 15.5 kilometers, according to Taiwan’s Central Weather Administration, or CWA.

TV broadcasters showed images of collapsed buildings in Hualien, reporting that people were trapped inside. 

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The earthquake’s impact was felt across the island, leading to the suspension of metro services in Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung.

The quake was magnitude 7.5, according to the United States Geological Survey, while Taiwan’s CWA said it was 7.2.

It was the biggest to hit the island since 1999, when a magnitude 7.6 tremor killed around 2,400 people, said Taiwan’s official central news agency.

After the initial quake, the island was rattled by a strong aftershock of magnitude 6.5, the USGS said.

3-meter tsunami expected

Japan’s Meteorological Agency issued an evacuation advisory for Okinawa’s coastal regions due to an expected tsunami, with waves up to 3 meters forecasted along the southwestern coast. 

A partially collapsed building is seen after an earthquake in Hualien, eastern Taiwan on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (TVBS via AP)

The Philippines’ Seismology Agency has similarly warned residents in several coastal provinces to seek higher ground. 

The quake could be felt as far as Shanghai, according to a Reuters witness, while Chinese state-run media reported that it was felt in Fuzhou, Xiamen, Quanzhou and Ningde in China’s Fujian province.

Edited by Malcolm Foster.

Radio Free Asia

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