Pattaya Daily News

27 December 2006 :: 16:12:27 pm 31134

Strong Earthquake Shakes Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan, Dec. 26 — A strong earthquake and three powerful aftershocks shook Taiwan today, causing damage and at least one death, but a feared tsunami did not happen.
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Local news organizations said the seismic activity killed at least one person and injured at least 20 in towns on Taiwan’s southern tip, close to the epicenter, which was just offshore.

Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau estimated the initial earthquake at 6.7 on the Richter scale, while the United States Geological Survey reported a preliminary magnitude of 7.1.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said there was no threat of a region-wide tsunami, but Japan’s meteorological agency initially warned of a 3-foot wave heading south toward the Philippines. It later withdrew the warning, saying the danger had passed.

A significant aftershock shook Taiwan eight minutes after the earthquake and was estimated by local officials at 6.4 on the Richter scale and by the United States Geological Survey at 7.0. A third shock four minutes later was estimated by local officials at 5.2, and a fourth that occurred three hours later was measured at 5.5. The earthquake and the first aftershock were unusually long, each lasting more than a minute.

Taiwanese television stations showed rescuers using power equipment to dig through the remains of a building that collapsed and trapped eight inside in Kenting, an aging beach resort that faces the epicenter of the quake a few miles off shore.

A woman answering the phone at the Ambassador Hotel in Kaohsiung, a city of 1.6 million people located 50 miles from the epicenter, said there was little damage there and the city was calm. Calls to Kenting could not be completed because phone lines were overloaded.

The initial quake and the first aftershock were felt throughout Taiwan. A reporter’s hotel room swayed in Taipei, 260 miles north of the epicenter, and the building creaked for 10 to 15 seconds during both, while the second aftershock was not perceptible. The hotel was not evacuated, and the streets were quiet and peaceful afterward.

The first quake took place at 7:26 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday, which was 8:26 p.m. on Tuesday evening in Taiwan.

The quakes came on the second anniversary of the far more powerful one off Sumatra in Indonesia — estimated at 9.1 on the Richter scale — that triggered a tsunami up to 30 feet tall. That tsunami killed 230,000 people around the coastline of the Indian Ocean, most of them in Indonesia, and left nearly 2 million people homeless.

A Taiwanese official warned in a televised press conference tonight that there would probably be further aftershocks.

Taiwan lies in one of the most earthquake-prone regions of the world. An earthquake on Sept. 21, 1999, measured 7.6 on the Richter scale and killed more than 2,000 people in northern and central Taiwan.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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