A powerful earthquake struck Monday, January 3, off the east coast of Taiwan. The shock was felt in the capital Taipei, without causing any casualties or damage, for the moment, according to the authorities.
Taiwan’s Central Meteorological Bureau, which estimated the magnitude at 6 with a depth of 19 kilometers and an epicenter 56 kilometers east of Hualien, said no damage was initially reported.
Strong earthquake in eastern Taiwan. Felt shacking in Taipei. #taiwan #earthquake https://t.co/99RVjdw39F
Initial reports of the quake concerned only a handful of people stranded in elevators, which were able to be evacuated, Taiwanese firefighters said. No significant material damage was reported.
A reporter from Agence France-Presse in Taipei said the buildings swayed seriously when the quake struck at 5:46 p.m. (10:46 a.m. KST), which is the rush hour on transport . “The shock lasted a good twenty seconds with the ground moving”, she said.
At the junction of two tectonic plates
Morgan Everett, an American who has lived in Taiwan for thirteen years, said the earthquake was “One of the strongest qu’[elle a] feeling “ since his arrival. “My teenage sons were in the elevator in our building as they came home from school, which was pretty scary.”, she said. “They felt a strong shake and heard the cables creak. Fortunately the elevator worked normally and they were able to get out. “
Strong earthquake was felt in Taipei, Taiwan #AFP https://t.co/7yjkrmsIMO
Taiwan is regularly hit by earthquakes, as the island sits near the junction of two tectonic plates. In October, a magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck the northeast of the island, injuring a woman but causing no property damage. In 2018, a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck Hualien, a tourist hotspot, killing 17 and injuring nearly 300. The deadliest natural disaster in the island’s history occurred in September 1999, when an earthquake of magnitude 7.6 killed around 2,400 people.
The head of the seismological center of the central meteorological office said that Taiwan recorded an average of 2.5 earthquakes per year with a magnitude of 6 or more. Last year, however, Taiwan experienced five earthquakes with a magnitude greater than 6.