Natural Disasters

7.4 magnitude quake in Taiwan; Japan issues tsunami warning for Okinawa & other Ryukyu islands

The Philippines also issues tsunami warnings for its Batanes islands group; social media awash with cataclysmic images and videos from Taiwan

By Rajat Ghai
Published: Wednesday 03 April 2024
A map released by the US Geological Survey showing the island of Taiwan being struck by the quake

This story has been updated

A huge earthquake measuring 7.4 on the Richter Scale struck Taiwan in the early hours of the morning of April 3, 2023, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The quake struck south-southwest of the city of Hualien, on the east coast of the island, according to the USGS. It struck at 7:58 am local time. The impact was felt in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei in the north of the island.

According to the Associated Press, Japan issued a tsunami alert for the Ryukyu chain of islands which stretch from Taiwan to its main ‘home island’ of Kyushu. The Ryukyu group includes the island of Okinawa, which is home to large US military bases since World War II and the Cold War.

A tsunami of at least 30 centimetres had already reached Yonaguni Island, some 110 kilometres (70 miles) from Taiwan, The Japan Times reported.

The tsunami was predicted to reach the islands of Iriomote and Ishigaki around 9:30 am, and Miyakojima and the main island of Okinawa around 10 am, according to the broadcaster, NHK.

The quake was the strongest to hit Taiwan since 1999, according to The Guardian. Aftershocks continued between 8 and 9 am local time.

Social media, especially the microblogging site X, was awash with cataclysmic images and videos showing buildings and bridges shaking as the quake struck.

There are also reports of people being trapped in buildings on the island. Also, water towers have been hit. Internet outages are being reported from across Taiwan.

The island of Taiwan lies on the Pacific Ring of Fire, the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.

Other than Japan, the Philippines — also an archipelago in the Pacific to the southeast of Taiwan — has warned of a tsunami along its Batanes island group, located north of Luzon, its largest and most populous island, where the capital Manila is located.

So far, nine people have been reported killed and hundreds injured due to the quake. Pulaha Roy of Down To Earth mapped the intensity of the shaking experienced by different parts of the island.

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