A strong earthquake rattled eastern Taiwan early this afternoon, causing scattered light damage in the capital and the eastern coast region. The 6.1-magnitude quake was centred northwest of the city of Hualien and almost 19 kilometres (12 miles) deep. Water pipes at the city’s train station burst and rail traffic was briefly suspended. In Taipei, about 115 kilometres (71 miles) from the epicentre, people felt buildings shake, and the city’s subway system suspended service. Taiwan is on the string of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean known as the “Rim of Fire” and is frequently rocked by tremors, including a 1999 quake that killed more than 2,300 people. An earthquake in February 2018 in Hualien killed 17 people when four buildings partially collapsed. Two years earlier, an apartment building in the southwestern city of Tainan collapsed in an earthquake, killing 115 people.
It struck at 1:01 pm local time (05:01 GMT) at a depth of nearly 19km. It was centred northwest of the city of Hualien on the country’s east coast, said Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau. Water pipes at Hualien’s train station burst and rail traffic was briefly suspended. Two hikers in the Taroko Gorge national park, including one from Malaysia, were injured by falling rocks, the Hualien government reported.
The tremors were felt in the capital Taipei, about 115km from the epicentre, where officials shut down the metro for just over an hour for safety checks.
The National Fire Agency reported 15 injuries around Taipei and that two buildings were temporarily evacuated due to structural damage.
Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is prone to earthquakes. More than 100 people were killed in an earthquake in the island’s south in 2016, and in 1999, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake killed more than 2,000 people.