Powerful Earthquake Hits Taiwan, Partially Collapses Hotel

By Ryan F. Mandelbaum on at

A powerful earthquake struck Taiwan yesterday, causing damage and a partially collapsed hotel building, sources report.

The United States Geological Survey reports that the magnitude 6.4 quake struck 21 kilometers (13 miles) north of the city of Hualien at 3:50pm GMT, at a shallow 9.5 kilometers (6 miles) below the surface. No tsunami warnings have been issued.

The English-language Taiwan News and the BBC report that a number of buildings have collapsed in Hualien City, including a roof of a hotel. There are no reports of injuries yet. Residents as far away as Taipei (around 120 kilometres (75 miles) north) could feel tremors.

The quake occurred on the second anniversary of another that killed 117 two years ago. This is the second powerful earthquake in the area in just a few days. A magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck in nearly the same spot on Sunday (Monday Taiwan time).

Taiwan’s location on the geologically active Pacific Ring of Fire means they’re no stranger to tremors. Many of the country’s buildings are built to withstand some shaking.

USA Today reports the death toll is up to six, while Reuters reports that 60 are missing. There are power outages and water has been cut to thousands of residents. The BBC reports at least 100 injuries. Some are still trapped inside of the half-collapsed hotel and are shining the torches on their phones so responders know they’re there. 28 have been rescued from other collapsed buildings.

With a quake of this size there’s always the potential for aftershocks. “We haven’t seen any large enough here to record yet,” John Bellini from the USGS told Gizmodo. “But don’t have the local instrumentation they would have. I wouldn’t be surprised for there to be a number of aftershocks in the next couple of days.” [via Taiwan News and USGS]

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