Strong 7.2 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Taiwan, Triggers Tsunami Alert

A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 rattled the entire island of Taiwan early Wednesday, causing buildings to collapse in a southern city and prompting a tsunami alert that reached southern Japanese islands. In Hualien, a five-story building sustained significant damage, with its first floor collapsing and the rest tilting at a 45-degree angle. Tiles fell from older buildings in the capital city of Taipei, while some newer office complexes also experienced damage.

Train and subway services were suspended across the island, affecting millions of people, although the situation in Taipei quickly returned to normal, with children going to school and the morning commute proceeding as usual. The earthquake, which struck at 7:58 a.m. local time, was centered about 18 kilometers south-southwest of Hualien, with a depth of approximately 35 kilometers. Multiple aftershocks were felt, extending as far as the Taiwanese-controlled island of Kinmen off the coast of China.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning for the southern Japanese island group of Okinawa, predicting waves of up to 3 meters. A 30-centimeter wave was detected on the coast of Yonaguni island shortly after the quake, with other islands likely affected as well. However, no tsunami threat was reported for Hawaii or Guam by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. This earthquake is considered one of the most significant in Taiwan since the devastating tremor in 1999, highlighting the seismic risks faced by the region situated along the Pacific “Ring of Fire.”

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