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US offers Taiwan “all necessary help” after earthquake

US offers Taiwan “all necessary help” after earthquake

USA “is willing to provide all necessary help” to Taiwan After an earthquake of magnitude greater than 7 left at least nine dead and more than 900 injured in Taiwan on Wednesday.

”We monitor information on the impact of the earthquake in Taiwan and monitor its possible repercussions in Japan,” said a National Security Council spokeswoman, Adrienne Watson, in a White House statement.

Taiwanese authorities said the earthquake and its aftershocks were the most intense on this island in 25 years, and warned that more tremors could occur in the coming days.

All the deaths occurred in Hualien county, the closest point to the epicenter of the earthquake in the east of the island, the fire department said. In addition, 946 people were injured, this source added, without specifying the severity of the injuries.

Three of the fatalities were crushed to death by rocks while hiking. And a fourth died in a landslide. The circumstances of the other deaths have not yet been reported.

”Everything was shaking violently. The pictures on the wall, the television and the liquor cabinet fell,” a resident of the city of Hualien told local television SET TV.

Local media showed numerous multi-story buildings in Hualien tilting dangerously after the shake. In New Taipei City in the north, a warehouse collapsed, but more than 60 people emerged from the rubble alive, the mayor said. “It was as if a mountain collapsed,” said Liu, who lives next to the warehouse, where a printing press operated.

“The strongest in 25 years”

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) indicated that the earthquake had a magnitude of 7.4 and occurred just before 8:00 a.m. local time (00:00 GMT). The Taiwanese meteorological agency estimated the magnitude at 7.2, while the Japanese meteorological agency calibrated it at 7.5. The epicenter was located 18 kilometers south of Hualien, with a depth of 34.8 km, indicated the USGS.

”The earthquake was close to the ground and is shallow. It was felt throughout Taiwan and the islands (…). It is the strongest in 25 years,” Wu Chien-fu, director of the Taiwanese Seismological Center, told reporters.

In September 1999, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake killed about 2,400 people in Taiwan, still the deadliest natural disaster in the territory’s history.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen called for coordination between local and central agencies and announced that the army would provide support in rescue and assistance efforts. Authorities deployed excavators to remove rocks blocking roads to Hualien, according to images from local networks.

The roads leading to this city go through numerous tunnels and authorities fear that vehicles have been trapped inside.

“We must carefully verify how many people are trapped and rescue them quickly,” Vice President Lai Ching-te, who will take over as president in May, told reporters.

Strict building regulations and social awareness about this type of disaster seem to have prevented a major catastrophe in Taiwan, regularly affected by earthquakes due to its location between two tectonic plates.

Tsunami warnings

The earthquake was felt throughout Taiwan and had several aftershocks, including one of magnitude 6.5 near Hualien, according to the island’s meteorological agency.

In the capital Taipei, subway traffic was suspended for almost an hour, and the authorities asked residents to check for gas leaks. The Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturer TSMC, the largest in the world, briefly interrupted its production in some plants, an official told AFP.

The shock reached the other side of the Taiwan Strait, in the Fujian region of mainland China, or the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong.

It also triggered tsunami warnings in Taiwan, the southwestern islands of Japan and several provinces in the Philippines, although they were lifted shortly afterwards. In Japan, authorities temporarily suspended air traffic at Naha airport on the island of Okinawa.

A Japanese government spokesman said no casualties were detected in that region, although Japan’s meteorological agency detected tsunami waves of up to 30 centimeters on some of its islands.

Source: Gestion

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