Massive earthquake hits Taiwan

HUALIEN, TAIWAN – Taiwan was rocked by its most potent earthquake in 25 years on Wednesday, leading to the entrapment of scores of people in highway tunnels. The tremor, measuring 7.4 on the Richter scale, took the lives of at least nine individuals and left more than 900 injured.

The quake, which was succeeded by multiple strong aftershocks, was felt across the island, including in the capital city of Taipei. Taiwan’s National Fire Agency (NFA) reported that the death toll had risen to nine, with 934 people suffering injuries of unspecified severity.

Emergency services have managed to rescue 75 people who were trapped in different tunnels in Hualien County, but as of 7 a.m. Eastern Time, 137 people remain confined. Among those still trapped are 50 staff members of the Silk’s Place Hotel Taroko, who were traveling in four minibuses. Attempts to reach these individuals by phone have been unsuccessful.

The earthquake has also caused substantial infrastructural damage. Buildings in Hualien County have collapsed, thousands of homes are without power, and a key highway has been closed due to landslides and rockfalls. The majority of those trapped are located in two road tunnels in northern Hualien County.

The spokesperson for Taiwan’s Central Weather Administration has warned of the possibility of aftershocks as high as magnitude 7 until the end of the week. Initial tsunami warnings were issued for Taiwan, southern Japan, and the Philippines, but these were later lifted.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has called on her administration to assess the local impacts as soon as possible and provide the necessary assistance. Taiwan, situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, is frequently shaken by earthquakes due to its geographical location. This tremor is the most powerful since 1999 when a 7.7 magnitude quake hit south of Taipei, resulting in 2,400 fatalities and 10,000 injuries.