Friday April 12th, 2024 7:21AM

Tsunami threat largely passes after strong earthquake strikes Taiwan

By The Associated Press

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — The tsunami threat from a strong earthquake that struck Taiwan has largely passed.

The Japan Meteorological Agency downgraded its forecast from 3 meters (9.8 feet) to 1 meter (3.3 feet). One island had a wave of about 30 centimeters (a foot), while smaller waves were detected in other islands.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said there has been no report of injury or damage in Japan. He urged the residents in the Okinawa region to stay on safe ground until all tsunami advisories were lifted.

China issued no warnings for the Chinese mainland, and there was no threat for Hawaii and Guam.

More than two hours after the 7.4 magnitude quake struck Taiwan, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the threat of a tsunami has largely passed.

The quake damaged buildings on Taiwan but casualty information was not yet available.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A powerful earthquake rocked Taiwan during the morning rush Wednesday, damaging buildings and creating a tsunami that washed ashore on southern Japanese islands.

A five-story building in lightly populated Hualien appeared heavily damaged, 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. Schools evacuated their students to sports fields, equipping them with protective yellow head coverings. Many small children also wore motorcycle helmets to guard against falling objects amid continuing aftershocks.

Train service was suspended across the island of 23 million people, as was subway service in Taipei, where a newly constructed above-ground line partially separated. The national legislature, a converted school built before World War II, also had damage to walls and ceilings.

Despite the quake striking at the height of the morning rush hour, there was little panic on the island that regularly is rocked by temblors and holds drills at schools and issues notices via public media and mobile phone. Schools and government offices were given the option of cancelling work and classes.

There was still no word on casualties in Hualien, where a deadly quake in 2018 collapsed a historic hotel and other buildings. Taiwan's worst quake in recent years struck on Sept. 21, 1999 with a magnitude of 7.7, causing 2,400 deaths, injuring around 100,000 and destroying thousands of buildings.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said a tsunami wave of 30 centimeters (about 1 feet) was detected on the coast of Yonaguni island about 15 minutes after the quake struck. Smaller waves were measured in Ishigaki and Miyako islands. Japan’s Self Defense Forces sent aircraft to gather information about the tsunami impact around the Okinawa region and were preparing shelters for evacuees if necessary.

Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring agency gave the magnitude as 7.2 while the U.S. Geological Survey put it at 7.4. It struck at 7:58 a.m. about 18 kilometers south-southwest of Hualien and was about 35 kilometers (21 miles) deep.

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 USGS said one of the subsequent quakes was 6.5 magnitude and 11.8 kilometers (7 miles) deep.

China issued no tsunami warnings for the Chinese mainland. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no tsunami threat to Hawaii or the U.S. 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.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News
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