What We Know About the Earthquake in Taiwan

A powerful 7.4 magnitude earthquake that rocked Taiwan during the morning commute on Wednesday was the strongest quake to hit the island in 25 years.

It initially triggered forecasts of tsunami waves in China, Japan and the Philippines, but those warnings were later canceled. There were more than 100 aftershocks and more were expected over the next three to four days.

Here’s what we know about the earthquake and its aftermath.

What is the death toll?

The earthquake killed at least nine people and injured more than 800 others. Another 127 people were trapped, Taiwan’s fire department said Wednesday afternoon.

Among the dead were two hikers who were hit by falling rocks on a trail in Taroko National Park, according to the state-owned Central News Agency.

What parts of Taiwan were affected?

The heaviest damage was in Hualien County on the east coast near the epicenter, which was about 11 miles south of the city of Hualien, the county seat. But the quake was felt throughout Taiwan.

Buildings shook for more than a minute in the capital, Taipei. Rail services were halted across the island. Airlines canceled or delayed dozens of flights. More than 360,000 households lost power at one point on Wednesday, according to Taiwan’s Central Emergency Operation Center.

Map: 7.4-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Taiwan

View the location of the quake’s epicenter and shake area.

What was damaged?

The worst damage was in the city of Hualien, where several buildings were tilted over with their ground-floor levels crushed. One of the buildings, a 10-story structure that housed a mix of homes and shops, was one of the centers of the rescue efforts.

Throughout Taiwan, the quake and its aftershocks caused 15 buildings to collapse partially and damaged 67 others. One building in Changhua County, on the west coast, collapsed entirely, according to Taiwan’s fire department.

The quake also set off at least nine landslides on a major highway in Hualien, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency, which said part of the road had collapsed.

How prepared was Taiwan?

Taiwan has improved its level of preparation over decades of experiencing destructive earthquakes. It has refined its early warning system since the 1980s. It also updated its building codes in 2022, requiring owners of vulnerable structures to install reinforcements.

Taiwan established an urban search-and-rescue team and opened several emergency medical operation centers after an earthquake in central Taiwan killed nearly 2,500 people in 1999. The government also ordered a wave of building inspections in 2018 after 17 people died in a quake in Hualien.

Why has Taiwan had so many earthquakes?

Many deadly earthquakes have struck Taiwan in the past century. The island sits on several active faults, which are associated with seismic activity. It is near the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an area the U.S. Geological Survey says is the most seismically and volcanically active zone in the world.

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