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Taiwan Struck by Strongest Earthquake in 25 Years: Nine Lives Lost, 50 Missing

In a seismic upheaval that reverberated across the island, Taiwan was jolted by its most powerful earthquake in a quarter-century. The temblor, measuring 7.2 magnitude, claimed nine lives and left more than 900 injured. As the earth convulsed, 50 workers, en route to a hotel nestled within a national park, vanished without a trace.

In the mountainous, sparsely populated county of Hualien, some buildings now stand at precarious angles, their foundations tested by the relentless force of nature. The epicentre of this seismic fury lay just offshore, striking at approximately 8 a.m. (0000 GMT). The aftermath was catastrophic, triggering massive landslides that scarred the landscape. Among those affected was Linda Chen, a 48-year-old resident of downtown Hualien city. Her apartment, already scarred by a previous earthquake in 2018, bore the brunt once again. “We worry the house could collapse anytime,” she confided. “We thought we had already experienced it once in Hualien, and it would not strike us again, because God has to be fair.” Fear and nervousness now grip the hearts of many.

The quake struck at a depth of 15.5 kilometres (9.6 miles), catching people off guard as they embarked on their daily routines. A tsunami warning echoed across southern Japan and the Philippines, a stark reminder of the ocean’s wrath. Yet, even beyond these shores, the tremors reverberated. Taiwan’s eastern coast felt the earth’s fury, and the impact rippled across mainland China and Japan. In Taipei, the subway system shuddered under the force, briefly halting its operations. Rescuers, armed with ladders, worked tirelessly to extract trapped individuals from shattered windows. Amidst the chaos, fire authorities evacuated approximately 70 people ensnared in tunnels near Hualien city, including two German nationals.

As aftershocks continue to ripple through the region, Taiwan grapples with the aftermath of this seismic catastrophe. The coastal city of Hualien, with its population of around 106,000, now stands as a testament to resilience and vulnerability. The earth, unyielding and unpredictable, has once again reminded its inhabitants of their fragile existence. For Linda Chen and countless others, the fear lingers: “We are frightened. We are so nervous.” The island nation braces itself, hoping for respite from the relentless tectonic forces that shape its destiny.


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