Serious Earthquake Hits Taiwan

Serious Earthquake Hits Taiwan

( – Island nations are particularly susceptible to natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and typhoons. If a particularly strong event hits, it can cause massive destruction. So, when a serious earthquake struck Taiwan in the early morning hours of Wednesday, April 3, it sent the nation into scrambling mode.

The Earthquake

The 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan’s eastern coast, which is less inhabited and opposite the island’s most populous cities. Still, the quake inflicted significant damage, with at least 26 buildings collapsing, including one that remained precariously at a 45-degree angle in the aftermath. Officials scrambled to secure the building while searching for people potentially trapped inside. Still, they worry an aftershock might take it down. That’s not outside the realm of possibility. Five hours after the main tremor, officials had recorded at least 76 aftershocks. As of Thursday, over 300 aftershocks were reported.

At least 10 people have lost their lives, and more than 1,000 reported injuries. April 4 reports indicated that at least 11 people were unaccounted for, while over 700 were stranded and in need of rescuing. Rescue efforts have been ongoing.

Increased Risks

Located on the Ring of Fire, the world’s most active zone, Taiwan experiences more seismic activity. However, the nation has taken precautions to stabilize its buildings against earthquakes. Following a 7.6-magnitude tremor that killed nearly 2,300 people in 1999, officials implemented stricter building codes.

Additionally, years of honing their skills have enabled authorities and rescue workers to respond to quakes and tremors quickly and efficiently. The nation keeps rescuers on standby around the clock, a move that served the island well and saved lives. Within an hour, teams from Taiwan’s southern city of Kaohsiung assembled and made their way to Hualien. Rescuers erected emergency shelters within two hours.

Local neighborhood chief Chang Tung-yao credited the strengthened communications between local authorities, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations to lessons learned from the chaos following a tremor in 2018. All parties seamlessly worked together to coordinate and enact evacuation and rescue efforts.

United States “Stands Ready” to Help

In the aftermath of the tragedy, the United States notified Taiwan that it’s prepared to provide assistance to officials. The US is also monitoring the situation to determine whether a tsunami warning poses any direct threat to its naval facilities in Okinawa, Japan.

Strong waves cresting on Yonaguni Island prompted Japan to issue an evacuation advisory for Okinawa as the threat of 10-foot waves loomed.

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