Taiwan Rocked by Another Earthquake

hualien earthquake
Courtesy Taiwan Central Weather Bureau

Taiwan was hit by another series of earthquakes on Tuesday evening, with the largest recording a magnitude of 6.0, according to the Central Weather Bureau (CWB). At 11:21 pm on Wednesday, Hualien was hit by another earthquake of magnitude 5.7 at a depth of 10 km.

The series of quakes occurred just before and after midnight near Hualien. The first quake registered a magnitude of 6.0 at 11:50 pm just northeast of Hualien, with the subsequent tremor registering at 5.0 only three minutes later. Two more tremors registering 4.0 and 4.7 were recorded shortly after midnight. The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the largest quake registered 6.4 at a depth of 9.4 km.

All four earthquakes were shallow, with the first being the deepest at 10 km. The subsequent three quakes at 5.1 km, 2.6 km, and 5 km, respectively.

Since the two tremors after midnight, the CWB has recorded even more aftershocks, with six of those registering a magnitude of 4.0 or more. Two of the three most recent aftershocks registered 5.2 and 5.4 at a depth of 10 km.

The CWB recorded numerous smaller quakes earlier in the day as well, starting Tuesday morning. The strongest earthquake before the the one that hit at 11:50 pm was 4.7 at 1:09 pm. All the recorded quakes were clustered around Hualien.

As of 8 pm Wednesday, the CWB recorded 173 aftershocks, nine of which were of a magnitude 5.0 or more.

President Tsai Ing-wen sent out this tweet about an hour after the initial quake.

The series of earthquakes follow Monday afternoon’s magnitude-5.8 quake off the coast of Hualien.

There are reports of the earthquakes causing buildings to collapse in Hualien, according to Apple Daily. At least five buildings, including the Marshal Hotel (統帥大飯店) and Chateau de Chine Hualien, have collapsed or suffered significant damage, with residents reportedly trapped. Authorities said that everyone at Chateau de Chine is accounted for with no one remaining in the hotel.

The Central Emergency Operation Center (中央災害應變中心) dispatched rescue teams to the scene. There are reports of at least three people still trapped in the Marshal Hotel. Authorities said that two people trapped at the hotel are employees.

Other buildings reporting significant damage include Cloud Gate Community Center (雲門翠堤社區大樓) on Shangxiao St. and two residential buildings on Guosheng 1st St. and Guosheng 6th St. More than 20 people are said to be trapped inside Cloud Gate Community Center.

There are also reports that the earthquakes triggered landslides along the Suhua Highway (蘇花公路), which has since reopened to traffic.

hualien highway
Photo courtesy Directorate General of Highways

At least 264 people have been admitted to hospitals for treatment, with 27 suffering serious injuries, and 17 people were reported killed in the aftermath, nine of whom were tourists, according to Apple Daily. Authorities said that there are still at least 62 people unaccounted for. Two of the people killed in the quake were a 60-year-old woman who reportedly was an employee of the Marshal Hotel and a 66-year-old man. Three more people died at the partially collapsed Yun Men Tsui Ti commercial and residential building. 76 people are still reported as missing.

More than 148 people have been admitted to community shelters and more than 227 people have been rescued from seriously damaged buildings, UDN reported. In addition, 35,100 households are without water and 200 are without electricity at this time.

President Tsai Ing-wen is scheduled to fly to Hualien this morning (Wednesday) to check on relief efforts. She is scheduled to arrive at the Hualien City Library at 7:30 am.

Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) has sent a team to survey the damage and assist residents filing earthquake insurance claims. As of the end of last year, there were more than 2.88 million earthquake insurance policies in Taiwan, covering 33.55% of residents. The FSC noted that many homeowners still don’t have earthquake insurance policies. The commission advises homeowners to obtain at least basic insurance for emergencies.

President Tsai pledged to donate NT$1 million to earthquake relief as other people and organizations have also begun pledging donations. Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE, 日月光集團) announced Wednesday night that it would donate NT$10 million to earthquake relief.

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