Live updates: 7.4 magnitude quake hits Taiwan


Rescuers in Taiwan scrambled to free dozens of people trapped in highway tunnels after the island was struck by its strongest earthquake in 25 years Wednesday, killing at least nine and injuring more than 900 others.

The powerful 7.4 magnitude tremor shook the island’s east coast, hitting at 7:58 a.m. local time 18 kilometers (11 miles) south of Hualien city and at a depth of 34.8 kilometers (21 miles), according to the US Geological Survey. It was followed by several strong aftershocks with tremors felt across the island.

A partially collapsed building stands at a titled angle as workers carry out operations a day after a powerful earthquake struck in Hualien City, eastern Taiwan, on April 4.
A partially collapsed building stands at a titled angle as workers carry out operations a day after a powerful earthquake struck in Hualien City, eastern Taiwan, on April 4. Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Military personnel were dispatched to help with disaster relief, and schools and workplaces suspended operations, according to the Defense Ministry.

The full extent of the damage is still being assessed, with road and rail closures curtailing access to the quake’s epicenter in Hualien County.

More than 100 buildings were damaged across the island, the National Fire Agency said, with about half of those in Hualien.

Workers carry out operations at the site where a building collapsed, following the earthquake, in Hualien, Taiwan on April 4.
Workers carry out operations at the site where a building collapsed, following the earthquake, in Hualien, Taiwan on April 4. Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Footage posted on social media showed several collapsed buildings in Hualien and residents helping trapped people escape through the window of a damaged apartment complex.

The quake struck during the morning rush hour, with videos showing vehicles bouncing on a vigorously shaking highway, an overpass swaying in Taipei, and commuters struggling to stand inside a juddering Taipei metro train.

Rescue teams demolish a collapsed building following the earthquake, in Hualien, Taiwan on April 4.
Rescue teams demolish a collapsed building following the earthquake, in Hualien, Taiwan on April 4. Annabelle Chih/Getty Images

“There was really strong shaking… We quickly turned off the gas and electricity and opened the door. It was really strong. It felt like the house would fall down,” Taipei resident Chang Yu-lin said on CNN affiliate Taiwan Plus.

Chen Nien-tzu, also in Taipei, said, “It was really wild.”

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had an earthquake so it felt really scary,” she said on Taiwan Plus.

Tents for local residents evacuated following an earthquake are seen at a temporary center in Hualien, Taiwan, on April 4.
Tents for local residents evacuated following an earthquake are seen at a temporary center in Hualien, Taiwan, on April 4. Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

Large boulders could be seen strewn across the eastern Suhua Highway, with several tunnels broken — including one split in half, TVBS footage showed. CNN affiliate SET News shows the front of a car smashed by fallen rocks.

Transport authorities recorded at least nine rockfalls and landslides on the highway, which was closed to traffic.

Workers demolish a damaged building following the earthquake, in Hualien, Taiwan April 4.
Workers demolish a damaged building following the earthquake, in Hualien, Taiwan April 4. Tyrone Siu/Reuters

Another highway connecting the west coast with eastern Taiwan was also damaged by falling rocks, with at least 12 cars hit and nine people injured, TVBS reported.

Taiwan is regularly rocked by earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire, which runs around the edge of the Pacific Ocean and causes massive seismic and volcanic activity from Indonesia to Chile.

Vehicles travel in front of a damaged building following an earthquake in Hualien, Taiwan, on Thursday.
Vehicles travel in front of a damaged building following an earthquake in Hualien, Taiwan, on Thursday. An Rong Xu/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Wednesday’s quake is the strongest to hit Taiwan since 1999, according to the Central Weather Administration. That year, a 7.7 magnitude quake hit south of Taipei, killing 2,400 people and injuring 10,000 others.

Hualien County, parts of which are mountainous and remote, is home to about 300,000 people on the island’s sparsely populated east coast. A magnitude 6.2 quake hit near the area in 2018, killing at least 17 people and injuring more than 300 others.



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