Buildings Flattened After Powerful 7-Scale Earthquake Rocks Eastern Taiwan

A strong 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Taiwan’s east coast resulted in urgent tsunami warnings for Taiwan as well as nearby islands in the Philippines and southern Japan. The earthquake struck on Wednesday morning (local time), sending shockwaves across structures in the area. It was described as the strongest in over 25 years.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported that the earthquake had a magnitude of 7.4 and that its epicenter was located at a depth of 34.8 kilometers, approximately 18 kilometers (11 miles) south of Hualien City, Taiwan. The earthquake’s magnitude was estimated by Japan’s Meteorological Agency to be 7.7, which is somewhat higher. The potential for damaging tsunamis is the immediate concern following an earthquake of such magnitude offshore. The Meteorological Agency of Japan issued evacuation orders, advising people to seek higher ground, due to the possibility of tsunami waves along isolated southern Japanese islands, such as Miyakojima island, reaching up to three meters (10 feet) in height. On live broadcast, ships from Okinawa region ports could be seen looking for refuge in deeper waters.

The tremors affected Taipei and New Taipei City as well, leaving passengers stuck due to the suspension of high-speed train and metro services. Due to the temporary suspension of some activities of Taiwan Semiconductor manufacture Company (TSMC), Taiwan, a pioneer in the world of advanced computer chip manufacture, encountered interruptions. Social media users have shared reports of the damage, showcasing large-scale landslides, crumbling structures, and intense shaking.

Because Taiwan and Japan are close to tectonic plate borders, they are both located in seismically active zones. Although earthquakes frequently occur in Taiwan, the biggest natural disaster to date is still the devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck in 1999. In a similar vein, Japan records over 1,500 seismic occurrences of various intensities annually. Both nations have made remarkable progress toward building rules that are stricter and earthquake-resistant construction, despite the potential destruction. Japan in particular has strong disaster response systems in place, which were created in the wake of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off Japan’s northeast coast that tragically resulted in thousands of casualties and the Fukushima nuclear disaster. These systems include early warning systems and comprehensive evacuation protocols.

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