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Major Earthquake Hits Taiwan, Triggering Tsunami Warnings in Japan and Philippines

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A major earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 has struck off the coast of Taiwan, causing widespread destruction and prompting tsunami warnings in Japan and the Philippines. The Japan Meteorological Agency has issued a forecast of a potential tsunami reaching up to three meters for the southern island group of Okinawa, with Yonaguni Island already experiencing a 30-centimeter tsunami. Additionally, the coasts of Miyako and Yaeyama islands are likely to be affected by waves. The Philippines Seismology Agency has also issued evacuation warnings for residents in coastal areas across several provinces.

The earthquake, initially recorded as 7.2 by Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring agency and later revised to 7.7, was also reported as 7.5 by the US Geological Survey and 7.4 in subsequent updates. The epicenter of the quake was located offshore, 18 kilometers southwest of Hualien, Taiwan, and approximately 35 kilometers deep. A second tremor of magnitude 6.5 was reported nearby, 11 kilometers northeast of Hualien. Various effects of the earthquake were felt as far away as Kinmen and multiple aftershocks were experienced in Taipei following the initial quake.

In Hualien, a five-storey building sustained heavy damage with its first floor collapsing and the rest of the structure tilting at a 45-degree angle. Throughout Taipei, older buildings experienced falling tiles while newer office complexes also reported damage. Train services across the island were suspended, including subway services in Taipei. Despite the initial chaos, the situation normalized quickly in the capital with the morning commute proceeding unaffected.

The Southern Taiwan Science Park, home to semiconductor giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., reported that operations continued without impact though some factory areas were evacuated. Japan’s Self Defence Force dispatched aircraft to assess the impact of the tsunami warning around the Okinawa region and made preparations for potential evacuations. The earthquake marks the most significant tremor in Taiwan since the devastating 1999 quake that claimed the lives of around 2400 individuals.

Rachel Adams

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