Taiwan shaken by the biggest earthquake in 25 years

The earthquake was felt throughout Taiwan, with more than 100 aftershocks shaking the island of about 23 million.

Liu watched intently as rescuers picked their way through the remains of a warehouse that collapsed like a deck of cards on Wednesday during Taiwan’s most powerful earthquake in 25 years, telling AFP that “it’s like a mountain collapse.” As it was”.

By bracing ladders against the debris, rescue workers managed to pull 50 survivors from the destroyed building in the New Taipei city of Liyue, just outside the capital.

The building was about 60 years old and housed a printing press, said Liu, who lives next door.

The 7.4-magnitude earthquake, which struck around 8:00 a.m. local time (0000 GMT), reduced the building to a shambles of ruined concrete blocks, steel rods, bricks and tangled wires.

Residents of nearby buildings appeared unaffected, although they felt strong tremors from the early morning earthquake.

“Many decorations in the house fell to the floor, but people were safe,” said Chang, who lives near the printing press. “We were very lucky.”

The earthquake was felt throughout Taiwan, with more than 100 aftershocks shaking the island of about 23 million.

Its center was in eastern Hualien County, a mountainous region known for its picturesque trails and sea views.

At least nine people died in the earthquake – all in Hualien – three were killed while traveling on foot and two were crushed in their vehicles by landslides.

More than 800 were injured throughout Taiwan.

Images filmed by a train passenger and obtained by AFP’s verification team showed a landslide near Hualien Trail, blanketing its mountain peaks with a cloud of white dust.

A driver shot video of another landslide on a road near the area’s famous Taroko National Park, with cars being swept through a cloud of sand and dust.

Some buildings around Hualien were leaning dangerously, with military personnel climbing into the structures using ladders.

A group of firefighters used a cherry picker to reach the window and delivered tools to workers inside.

In Taichung – Taiwan’s second-largest city – on the island’s west coast, a landslide cut off a road, sending large rocks tumbling down the mountainside and blocking traffic.

The shallow earthquake – the United States Geological Survey reported it to be at a depth of about 34.8 kilometers – “was felt throughout Taiwan,” said Wu Chien-fu, director of the seismology center of the Taipei Central Meteorological Administration.

“This is the most intense earthquake in 25 years since the (1999) earthquake,” he said, adding that officials were not ruling out aftershocks in the next three days.

An earthquake in central Taiwan in 1999 killed about 2,400 people in the deadliest natural disaster in the island’s history.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it had deployed cargo planes to transport dozens of rescue workers to Hualien, where people were reportedly trapped in tunnels cut into the mountains.

‘really scared’

Taiwan is prone to earthquakes because the island is located near the junction of two tectonic plates.

Buildings in major cities are built to withstand strong shocks, and while there are tall buildings in the capital, Taipei, people prefer to live in structures less than 10 stories tall.

In New Taipei City, Mayor Hou Yu-ih surveyed the scene of the printing press collapse with rescue workers, and reassured reporters that all 57 people in the building had been evacuated – only one was injured.

Chang, who lives nearby, said the 1999 quake was the worst she had ever seen.

“Most people were sleeping (when it happened) but I wasn’t sleeping so I felt it clearly – it was very serious, much more serious than this time,” she said.

But a woman in Hualien said she was “really scared” because Wednesday’s quake hit so late.

“I’m used to earthquakes but this is the first time I got so scared that my hands kept shaking,” she said in a Facebook post.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)