Advertisement

Taiwan earthquake: Powerful tremor sends 23 million into chaos as tsunami warnings issued

The magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck at 7.58am approximately 18km southwest of the city of Hualien in Taiwan, measuring a depth of about 35km.

A major tsunami warning is in place across several countries around the Pacific after the strongest earthquake recorded in Taiwan in 25 years rocked the region on Wednesday, reducing buildings to rubble, bringing the the rail network to a halt and plunging the island of 23 million into chaos.

The magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck at 7.58am (local time) approximately 18 kilometres southwest of the city of Hualien, measuring a depth of about 35km and creating a tsunami that washed ashore on southern Japanese islands.

A five-storey building in lightly populated Hualien was heavily damaged during the huge quake, collapsing its first floor and leaving the rest leaning at a 45-degree angle. In the capital Taipei, tiles fell from older buildings and within some newer office complexes.

A landslide appeared after Taiwan was rocked by a huge earthquake.
A powerful earthquake rocked the entire island of Taiwan early on Wednesday, collapsing buildings in a southern city and creating a tsunami that washed ashore on southern Japanese islands. Source: Twitter

Globe shocked as stunning footage emerges online

In one incredible video, a news anchor can be seen powering through a segment as the quake rocks the set, shaking the newsreader about as she attempts to read an autocue. Screens, lighting equipment and monitors can seen trembling as cameras pan around the newsroom.

A Taiwanese news achor tried to power through a segment when the quake shook the newsroom.
A Taiwanese news achor tried to power through a segment when the quake shook the newsroom. Source: Twitter

Footage on social media shows terrified residents running from crumbling buildings as screams are heard in the background. In one unverified video a landslide is seen forming on a hillside. Other videos show cars brought to a standstill in traffic on a bridge, as the structure shakes from side to side, sending vehicles bouncing around.

Train services were suspended across the island, as was the subway service in Taipei. Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring agency gave the magnitude as 7.2 while the US Geological Survey put it at 7.4.

A five-storey building in lightly populated Hualien was heavily damaged, seen here right collapsing after Taiwan's earthquake.
A five-storey building in lightly populated Hualien (right) was heavily damaged, collapsing its first floor and leaving the rest leaning at a 45-degree angle. Source: Twitter
A landslide (pictured) appeared after Taiwan was rocked by a huge earthquake.
Train services were suspended across the island of 23 million people, as was the subway service in Taipei. Source: Twitter

Quake felt across Taiwan, tsunami detected in Japan

The head of Taiwan's earthquake monitoring bureau, Wu Chien-fu, said effects were detected as far away as Kinmen, a Taiwanese-controlled island off the coast of China. Multiple aftershocks were felt in Taipei in the hour after the initial quake.

The Japan Meteorological Agency forecast a tsunami of up to 3 metres, for the southern Japanese island group of Okinawa.

A wave of 30 centimetres, was detected on the coast of Yonaguni island about 15 minutes after the quake struck. JAMA said waves likely also hit the coasts of Miyako and Yaeyama islands.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no tsunami threat to Hawaii or the US Pacific territory of Guam.

The quake was believed to be the biggest in Taiwan since a temblor in 1999 caused extensive damage. Taiwan lies along the Pacific "Ring of Fire," the line of seismic faults encircling the Pacific Ocean where most of the world's earthquake's occur.

This is a developing story. More to come.

Love Australia's weird and wonderful environment? Get our new newsletter showcasing the week’s best stories.