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Taiwan earthquakes: A group of earthquakes shake the city of Hualien

Taiwan earthquakes: A group of earthquakes shake the city of Hualien


TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A group of earthquakes struck the island republic of Taiwan early Tuesday, the strongest measuring 6.1, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

There were no reports of casualties in the quakes, although there was other damage to two multi-storey buildings that were evacuated following a 7.4-magnitude earthquake that struck the island earlier this month, killing 13 people and injuring more than 1,000. The epicenter of the quake was Along the coast of rural and mountainous Hualien County.

This was the strongest earthquake Taiwan has witnessed in the past 25 years, and was followed by hundreds of aftershocks. The earthquakes that occurred on Tuesday are the most recent of these earthquakes.

According to the US Geological Survey, Tuesday's 6.1-magnitude earthquake was centered 28 kilometers (17.5 miles) south of Hualien City, at a depth of 10.7 kilometers. The other six quakes ranged in magnitude from 4.5 to 6, all near Hualien City. The Taiwan Earthquake Monitoring Center estimated the initial magnitude of the quake at 6.3. Such small discrepancies are common among monitoring stations.

The largest were two earthquakes measuring 6.0 and 6.3, which occurred at 2:26 a.m. and 2:32 a.m. on Tuesday, respectively, according to the Taiwan Center. Several aftershocks could be felt on the upper floors of residential buildings in the capital, Taipei, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) away across steep mountains to the northwest.

The Full Hotel in downtown Hualien partially collapsed during the earthquakes and was left leaning at a severe angle, however, it was undergoing renovations and was vacant at the time. The nearby Tong Shuai Building was also empty, having been slated for demolition after sustaining severe damage in the April 3 earthquake.

Schools and offices were ordered closed in Hualien and the surrounding county on Tuesday as hundreds of aftershocks continued to hit land and off the coast in the Pacific Ocean, the vast majority of them below magnitude 3. Authorities have notified anyone whose home was damaged in the earthquake. The last quake was on the way out until the aftershocks subsided, and some decided to wait in their cars.

Rockslides have blocked part of the trail in the rugged Taroko Valley, where several hikers lost their lives in the April 3 earthquake. Although train service from Taipei to Hualien has been suspended, traffic disruption has been minimal, and Provincial Expressway No. 8 is expected to be cleared by Wednesday. Cracks opened in some walkways and bridges and some tiles fell from the outer walls, but the damage was only minor.

Experts say strong earthquakes are no stranger to Taiwan, but their effects on the high-tech island's 23 million residents have been contained thanks to its excellent earthquake preparedness. The island also has strict building standards and extensive public education campaigns about earthquakes.

In 1999, a 7.7-magnitude earthquake in Taiwan killed 2,400 people.

Taiwan lies along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” the seismic fault line that encircles the Pacific Ocean from South America to Japan, Indonesia and New Zealand, and is where most of the world's earthquakes occur. Earthquakes, often with their epicenters in the Pacific Ocean, are an almost daily occurrence on the island, where they are often referred to as the “cattle of the earth.”

Taiwan's Cabinet has allocated more than NT$20 billion (US$614.9 million) for relief and reconstruction following the April 3 earthquake.




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