Strong Earthquake Strikes Offshore Taiwan, Triggering Tsunami Warning in Japan and the Philippines

An earthquake of 7.2 magnitude jolted the capital city of Taipei on Wednesday morning, causing power outages in various areas and prompting a tsunami alert for the southern Japanese islands and the Philippines. Reports from Taiwan showed collapsed buildings in Hualien county, close to the quake’s center, with individuals reportedly trapped therein.

The tremor, which occurred at 07:58 a.m. (2358 GMT) at a depth of 15.5km (9.6 miles) off Taiwan’s east coast, marked the most powerful quake to hit the region in 25 years, according to state media. Consequently, Japan issued evacuation advisories for its southern Okinawa coastal regions, with the Japan Meteorological Agency projecting tsunami waves up to 3 meters (10 feet) along significant parts of the southwestern coast, attributing a magnitude of 7.5 to the quake.

At 9:18 a.m. (0018 GMT), a 30 cm (1 foot) tsunami reached Yonaguni Island, as relayed by the Japan Meteorological Agency. The Philippines Seismology Agency also urged residents in various coastal provinces to move to higher ground as a precaution.

The earthquake’s impact also extended to China, where it was reported to have been felt in cities like Shanghai, Fuzhou, Xiamen, Quanzhou, and Ningde in Fujian province. Despite these events, the Taipei city government has not received any reports of significant damage, with the city’s mass rapid transit system operational shortly after.

Notably, this quake stands as Taiwan’s most intense since 1999, when a 7.6 magnitude tremor claimed approximately 2,400 lives and caused destruction to 50,000 buildings, ranking as one of the island’s most devastating seismic events on record. Japanese broadcaster NHK indicated that the earthquake triggered an “Upper 6” intensity level in Taiwan’s Hualien, as per Japan’s 1-7 intensity scale, signifying the collapse of most unreinforced concrete-block walls and making standing or moving without crawling difficult.