6.1-magnitude earthquake causes light damage in Taiwan capital, east coast

Taiwan is on the string of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean known as the “Rim of Fire” and is frequently rocked by tremors

Updated - April 18, 2019 03:27 pm IST

Published - April 18, 2019 02:23 pm IST - Taipei

In this photo released by Taroko National Park, an injured Malaysian tourist, in red, is assisted by rescue workers at the Taroko National Park in Hualien after a strong earthquake rattled eastern Taiwan early on April 18, 2019.

In this photo released by Taroko National Park, an injured Malaysian tourist, in red, is assisted by rescue workers at the Taroko National Park in Hualien after a strong earthquake rattled eastern Taiwan early on April 18, 2019.

A strong earthquake rattled eastern Taiwan early on Thursday afternoon, causing scattered light damage in the capital and the eastern coast region.

The 6.1-magnitude quake was centred northwest of the city of Hualien and almost 19 kilometres (12 miles) deep, Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau said.

Water pipes at the city’s train station burst and rail traffic was briefly suspended. Schools along the east coast were evacuated, with students holding their backpacks over their heads for protection. TV footage showed at least one landslide in a lightly populated area.

Two hikers in the famed Taroko Gorge national park, including one from Malaysia, were injured by falling rocks, the Hualien government reported.

In Taipei, about 115 kilometres (71 miles) from the epicentre, people felt buildings shake, and one multi-storey building was leaning against its neighbour after its foundation shifted. The city’s subway system suspended service.

At the leaning building in downtown Taipei, area resident Ayumi Lin said the force of the temblor was felt strongly. “It was really scary,” Lin, 50, said. “The quake shook strongly twice.”

The owner of a travel agency in the adjacent building, who gave only his surname, Huang, said all his employees had evacuated safely from their 7th floor office. “No one was hurt,” Huang said.

Premier Su Tseng-chang said schools, work sites, water, power and transit lines had been checked for damage. While no major problems were found, cracked road surfaces on the east coast could become a problem if rain were to fall soon, Su said.

People in Chinese cities close to the Taiwan Strait dividing the island from mainland China reported on social media that they felt the quake.

Taiwan is on the string of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean known as the “Rim of Fire” and is frequently rocked by tremors, including a 1999 quake that killed more than 2,300 people.

An earthquake in February 2018 in Hualien killed 17 people when four buildings partially collapsed. Two years earlier, an apartment building in the southwestern city of Tainan collapsed in an earthquake, killing 115 people.

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