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Taiwan’s deadliest quake in 25 years: 9 dead; Over 800 injured

Taiwan was struck by its strongest earthquake in over two decades on Wednesday, a powerful 7.4 magnitude earthquake that killed at least 9 people and injured more than 800 others. The quake hit off the eastern coast at 8 am local time as many were heading to work and school.

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The epicentre was located 18km south of Hualien city, but the violent shaking could be felt in the capital Taipei over 100km away. It triggered rockslides and caused significant damage to buildings, roads and infrastructure across the mountainous eastern region. Several buildings tilted at alarming angles in Hualien County near the quake’s offshore origin.

Dramatic video footage showed rescuers using ladders to extract people trapped inside crumbling structures. The subway system in Taipei was briefly suspended as a precaution. A tsunami warning was initially issued for southern Japan and the Philippines but later lifted.

Rescue efforts are still ongoing as dozens remain unaccounted for or trapped. Over 120 people, including two German nationals, are believed to be stranded in collapsed road tunnels and mountain areas near Hualien. Contact has also been lost with around 50 people travelling by minibus to a hotel in Taroko Gorge National Park.

Taiwanese authorities have confirmed at least 9 deaths so far from the magnitude 7.4 quake, which struck at a relatively shallow depth of 15.5km beneath the ocean floor. Over 800 injuries have been reported, with many rushed to hospitals. Six F-16 fighter jets were also slightly damaged at a major air force base.

This was the largest earthquake to hit Taiwan since a 7.6 magnitude quake struck offshore in September 1999, killing over 2,400 people. An even stronger 7.7 magnitude tremor in 1935 killed over 3,000. The island lies on the seismically active Ring of Fire in the Pacific and regularly experiences earthquakes.

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