On a Tuesday night, February 6th, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake impacted Taiwan, around 13 miles from the city of Hualien in the Pacific Ocean, a popular tourist destination.
Seven other tremors were registered around that time by Taiwan’s Central News Agency. The strongest was recorded 10 miles deep, with a magnitude of 5.8. According to the Central Emergency Operations Center, around 148 people were rescued, 280 were injured and at least six were reported dead. The infrastructure was moderately affected: four buildings collapsed, and two bridges were closed. A ten story hotel collapsed, the local fire department rescued 24 people trapped inside. In addition to this, the Hualien Shanxiao residential building and a hospital were critically affected by the earthquake. Reportedly, rail links and the Hualien airport didn’t suffer any damage. The affected civilians were secured in shelters and were provided with aid and food.
Premier William Lai commented on the situation, “we believe at this time we need to make sure we’re making preparations for Hualien, providing enough medication and help for citizens so they can be safe as soon as possible… with such a large earthquake a lot of things will definitely happen.” In addition, President Tsai Ing-wen stated she had “ordered search and rescue workers not to give up on any opportunity to save people…the government will work with everyone to guard their homeland”.
This is not the first occasion Taiwan is affected by similar earthquakes, it is positioned in the “Ring of Fire” where seismic activity and faults are frequent. In 1999 a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck central Taiwan, killing around 2,300 people. More recently in 2016, an earthquake rattled the South of Taiwan, killing at least 24 people. Although there are major severe cases like these, it is quite common for minor earthquakes to strike Taiwanese coasts, however fortunately most don’t provoke major damage for the island.