<div>Earthquake hits Taiwan: At least 7 killed & 711 hurt as huge 7.7 magnitude quake downs buildings & triggers landslides</div>

Earthquake hits Taiwan: At least 7 killed & 711 hurt as huge 7.7 magnitude quake downs buildings & triggers landslides

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AT least seven people have been killed and 711 injured after a huge 7.7 magnitude earthquake rocked Taiwan.

The quake – the nation’s strongest in 25 years – sparked tsunami fears, downed buildings and triggered landslides.

AP

A leaning building in the eastern city Hualien is cordoned off in the aftermath of the quake[/caption]

AP

Rescuers sift through debris of a building in Hualien[/caption]

Rockfall from a mountain near Kanan bridge in Hualien
AFP
AP

A partially collapsed building is seen in Hualien[/caption]

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Images shared on social media seemed to suggest the earthquake had caused mass landslides[/caption]

Frantic rescuers are battling to save at least 77 people trapped in collapsed buildings after the quake struck just before 8am local time (1am UK time).

Shocking images show buildings slumped to one side and debris strewn across roads in the eastern coastal city of Hualien, close to the epicentre of the quake.

Three hikers were killed in a landslide in Taroko National Park near the offshore epicentre.

In the capital Taipei, tiles fell from older buildings and in some newer office complexes, while debris fell from some building sites.

Dozens of schools rushed to evacuate their students to sports fields – handing them yellow safety helmets.

Some also covered themselves with textbooks in a bid to guard themselves from falling objects as aftershocks continued.

Traffic along the east coast halted to a standstill as landslides and debris hit tunnels and highways – damaging vehicles.

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Authorities have so far confirmed seven deaths and at least 711 injuries.

Meanwhile, many fled their homes after Taiwan and Japan issued tsunami alerts.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) warned a tsunami could strike areas around Okinawa, Miyakojima and Yaeyama Islands.

“Tsunami waves are approaching the coasts. Evacuate as quickly as possible. Waves can hit repeatedly. Continue to evacuate until all warnings are lifted,” the meteorological agency said.

The quake, described as “very shallow”, is 18km south of Taiwan’s Hualien city, according to the US Geological Survey.

JMA forecast a tsunami of up to three meters (9.8 feet) after the quake hit at 7.58am local time.

WAVES BEGIN

About half an hour later, it said the first wave of the tsunami was already believed to have arrived on the coasts of Miyako and Yaeyama islands.

A wave of 30cm was detected on the coast of Yonaguni island about 15 minutes after the quake struck.

JAMA said waves are likely also hit the coasts of Miyako and Yaeyama islands.

The earthquake was felt across the island, according to Taiwan’s Central Weather Administration agency.

It measured 7.7 at the epicentre and around four at its weakest points.

Authorities said they had only expected a relatively mild quake of magnitude 4 and accordingly did not send out alerts.

Wu Chien Fu, the director of Taipei’s Seismology Centre, said: “The earthquake is close to land and it’s shallow. It’s felt all over Taiwan and offshore islands… it’s the strongest in 25 years.”

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In September 1999, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake hit Taiwan, killing 2,400 people.

SHOCK IMAGES

Television showed buildings in Taiwan’s eastern city of Hualien shaken off their foundations. The quake could be felt in the capital Taipei.

Photographs show how the quake triggered massive landslides and caused buildings to crumble.

The islandwide train service was suspended, as was subway service in Taipei.

And flights to Okinawa, Ishigaki, and Miyako airports in Japan are preparing to return to origin as the airports were ordered to evacuate.

The quake struck on the other side of the island from the capital, but was strong enough to knock items off shelves in the city.

There have been 78 disaster reports so far, according to the New Taipei City Fire Department.

A warehouse in Zhonghe tilted, trapping people inside, but they were immediately rescued. Elsewhere people were trapped elevators and reported gas leaks.

The quake off the coast of southwestern Japan has caused power outages in parts of Taiwan.

And a Tsunami warning has been issued in the Philippines.

In January more than 150 powerful tremors had plagued central Japan since New Year’s Day – leaving 48 dead, homes destroyed and many without power and stockpiling food.

Japan is one of the most seismically active countries in the world due to its position in the the “Pacific Ring of Fire” where several tectonic plates meet and grind against each other.

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Honshu, Japan’s main island and the epicentre of today’s quakes, lies at the intersection between Eurasian, Philippine and North American plates.

The country is haunted by the memory of a massive 9.0 magnitude undersea quake off northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, which triggered a tsunami that killed nearly 20,000 people.

New Year’s Day was the first time since that fateful day that Japan has issued a major tsunami warning.

The 2011 tsunami also sent three reactors into meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing Japan’s worst post-war disaster and the most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

In March 2022, a 7.4-magnitude quake off the coast of Fukushima shook large areas of eastern Japan, killing three people.

Locals were warned to evacuate ahead of three-metre high waves
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Photographs show how the quake triggered massive landslides and caused buildings to crumble[/caption]

news.ebc.net.tw

Residents are trapped inside one apartment block that collapsed in the quake[/caption]

X (formerly Twitter)

One local shared an image of a battered car online with the caption ‘the earthquake in Taiwan shook quite a bit’[/caption]

Getty

Tropical paradise Miyako island, Okinawa. Waves up to three metres tall are expected[/caption]

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