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Taiwan’s Strongest Earthquake in 25 Years: Dozens Trapped in Tunnels, Nine Dead

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The island of Taiwan was struck by a powerful earthquake, the strongest in 25 years, leaving dozens trapped in tunnels and resulting in the tragic loss of at least nine lives. With a magnitude of 7.4, the tremor shook the east coast of Taiwan, specifically hitting the vicinity of Hualien city. The earthquake occurred at 7:58 a.m. local time, with its epicenter located 18 kilometers south of Hualien city and at a depth of 34.8 kilometers.

Immediate Aftermath and Rescue Efforts

As the earthquake struck, chaos and devastation quickly unfolded. Buildings collapsed, landslides occurred, and roads were damaged, leaving many stranded and in need of immediate assistance. The National Fire Agency (NFA) of Taiwan reported that 934 people were injured, and the death toll rose to nine. However, the severity of the injuries was not immediately indicated.

Rescue operations were launched swiftly, with emergency responders working tirelessly to save those trapped in tunnels. As of the latest update, 75 individuals have been rescued, but 137 people remain trapped, including 50 employees of the Silk’s Place Hotel Taroko who were traveling in minibuses at the time of the earthquake. Authorities have listed them as trapped until further contact can be established.

The challenge of rescue efforts is further compounded by the occurrence of aftershocks and the difficult terrain of the affected areas. The Central Weather Administration of Taiwan has issued warnings that powerful aftershocks, potentially reaching a magnitude of 7, are expected to persist until the end of the week. Despite these challenges, rescuers remain determined to reach all those in need of assistance.

Extensive Damage and Impact

The earthquake caused extensive damage across various regions of Taiwan. In Hualien County, where the epicenter was located, numerous buildings collapsed, including 15 in Hualien City alone. Collapsed buildings were also reported in other parts of Taiwan, such as Changhua County on the west coast.

Additionally, landslides and rockfalls occurred, leading to the closure of major highways and further hindering rescue and relief efforts. The Suhua Highway, a scenic but treacherous road along the east coast, suffered significant damage, with at least nine landslides reported. The road’s collapse trapped numerous vehicles and individuals, making rescue operations even more challenging.

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Reports also indicated that thousands of homes were left without power, exacerbating the difficulties faced by affected communities. Taipower Company, the government-operated power company, is working diligently to restore electricity to the affected areas.

Impact on Human Lives

Tragically, the earthquake claimed the lives of nine individuals. Among the victims were three hikers in the popular tourist spot, Taroko Gorge, who were killed by falling rocks. Another fatality was a truck driver on the Suhua Highway, whose vehicle was struck by a boulder. The NFA confirmed that all deaths occurred in Hualien County.

The injured individuals were dispersed throughout the affected regions, with 132 reported in Hualien County alone. The exact number of casualties and the severity of injuries are still being assessed as rescue operations continue.

Tsunami Warnings and Regional Impact

The earthquake triggered initial tsunami warnings not only in Taiwan but also in southern Japan and the Philippines. However, these warnings were later lifted as the threat subsided. Tsunami waves of less than half a meter were observed along some coasts, but no significant damage was reported.

The impact of the earthquake was felt beyond Taiwan’s borders. In Okinawa, Japan, an evacuation alert was issued due to the possibility of a tsunami. However, this alert was downgraded to an advisory as the situation became more stable. Coastal areas of the Philippines were also warned of high tsunami waves, urging residents to take necessary precautions.

Taiwan’s Resilience and Preparedness

Taiwan is no stranger to earthquakes, as it is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a region known for seismic and volcanic activity. The frequency of these natural disasters has compelled the Taiwanese government to establish robust emergency measures and response protocols.

With their experience and preparedness, Taiwan was able to swiftly mobilize resources and deploy military personnel to assist with rescue and relief operations. Schools and workplaces were suspended to prioritize safety, and the government established a disaster response center in Hualien.

Despite the challenges posed by the earthquake, Taiwan remains resilient and determined to overcome the aftermath of this natural disaster. The nation’s commitment to the well-being of its citizens is evident through the concerted efforts of emergency responders, military personnel, and various government agencies.

Future Outlook and Recovery Efforts

As Taiwan continues to grapple with the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, attention turns to recovery and rebuilding efforts. The government, led by President Tsai Ing-wen, has pledged to deploy soldiers and allocate resources to aid in the recovery process.

However, the road to full recovery may be long and arduous. The damage to infrastructure, including collapsed buildings and compromised roads, will require significant resources and time to repair. It is crucial for international support and assistance to complement Taiwan’s efforts and facilitate a swift recovery.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), a major player in the semiconductor industry, evacuated some of its factories in Hsinchu and southern Taiwan as a precautionary measure. However, the company has since reported that its staff is returning to work, indicating a commitment to resume operations and contribute to the nation’s recovery.


The earthquake that struck Taiwan has left a lasting impact on the affected regions. Lives have been lost, and many individuals remain trapped and in need of rescue. The resilience and preparedness of Taiwan’s government and its citizens provide hope for a swift recovery and rebuilding process.

As the nation comes together to support those affected by the earthquake, international assistance and solidarity are crucial. Taiwan’s commitment to its citizens’ well-being, coupled with the determination of rescue and relief teams, will undoubtedly pave the way for a brighter future.

Through collective efforts and unwavering support, Taiwan will overcome the challenges posed by this earthquake and emerge stronger than ever before.


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