Massive Earthquake Strikes Taiwan, Killing Nine

damaged building
An area of a damaged building is cordoned off following the earthquake on April 04, 2024 in Hualien, Taiwan. | Image by Annabelle Chih/Getty Images

A 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck the east coast of Taiwan Wednesday, killing nine people and injuring over 1,000.

The earthquake struck during the morning rush hour and caused the ground floors of several buildings to collapse, leaving the structures tilting at precarious angles. The island has a long history of strong quakes, but today’s event was the most powerful in a quarter of a century.

“I’ve grown accustomed to (earthquakes). But today was the first time I was scared to tears by an earthquake,” said Hsien-hsuen Keng, a resident who lives in a fifth-floor apartment in Taipei, said to The Associated Press.” I was awakened by the earthquake. I had never felt such intense shaking before.”

The last earthquake to strike the island greater in magnitude than the April 3 quake was in 1999. The 7.7-magnitude quake killed nearly 3,000 people and injured over 8,000, per CNN. Since then, Taiwan has become better prepared for strong earthquakes. As rescuers continue to dig through rubble, the death toll is likely to climb; however, the number is not expected to approach the outcome of the 1999 quake.

The rescue operation of reportedly 70 stranded miners working in two rock quarries at the time of the quake has been complicated by several large landslides that destroyed and buried roads to the quarries, per AP.

More than 29 aftershocks measuring above a 4.0 struck following the initial quake, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey reported by AP. U.S. officials are reportedly in contact with Taiwanese officials.

“We are monitoring reports of the earthquake impacting Taiwan and continue to monitor its potential impact on Japan. The United States stands ready to provide any necessary assistance. All those affected are in our prayers,” a statement from National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said, per CNN.

The earthquake struck at 7:58 am local time, approximately 11 miles south of Hualien. The county of Hualien has a population of around 300,000, with 100,000 living in the main city. Taiwan’s Central Emergency Command Center reports that more than 91,000 households are without power due to damage from the quake.

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