At least four people were killed, houses were damaged and rail traffic was paralyzed. The earthquake was felt even in China.

Three firefighters dressed in yellow in front of a collapsed house in Hualien;  Taiwan

Firefighters outside a building damaged by the earthquake in Hualien, Taiwan, April 3 Photo: National Fire Agency of Taiwan

TAIPEI ap | The strongest earthquake in a quarter of a century occurred in Taiwan on Wednesday morning around 8 am (local time). At least four people died, the national fire authority said. The victims were reported in Hualien county, the center of the earthquake. At least 57 other people were injured and buildings and roads were damaged. Train traffic was suspended across the island of 23 million people, as was subway service in the capital, Taipei.

Footage shows that a five-story building in Hualien appeared severely damaged. The ground floor collapsed and the rest of the building tilted 45 degrees. In Taipei, tiles fell from the roofs of older houses. The schools took their students to the sports fields and provided them with yellow protective helmets. Fearing aftershocks, some students covered their heads with school books to protect themselves from falling objects.

Traffic along the east coast was virtually paralyzed due to landslides and falling debris affecting tunnels and roads in the mountainous region. The vehicles were damaged. It was initially unclear if anyone was injured.

According to the Japanese Meteorological Agency, a tsunami wave 30 centimeters high was measured off the coast of Yonaguni Island, part of Japan, about 15 minutes after the earthquake. Smaller waves were also recorded on Ishigaki and Miyako islands. The Taiwan Earthquake Observatory estimated the earthquake's magnitude at 7.2, while the United States Geological Survey gave a value of 7.4. The earthquake occurred about 18 kilometers south-southwest of Hualien at a depth of about 35 kilometers. Several aftershocks followed, some of them strong.

According to Chinese media reports, the earthquake was also felt in Shanghai and several provinces on China's southeast coast. There are about 160 kilometers between China and Taiwan.

Taiwan is located on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire and is frequently shaken by earthquakes. For this reason, exercises are periodically carried out in schools and the authorities inform through the media and mobile phones.

Hualien was last hit by a deadly earthquake in 2018. The most violent earthquake in recent times in Taiwan occurred on September 21, 1999 with a magnitude of 7.7 and caused 2,400 deaths and around 100,000 injuries.

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