Taiwan President-elect Lai Ching-te inspects the damage following earthquake, in Hualien 

By Vatican News

Apr 2 4 2024

The strongest earthquake in 25 years rocks Taiwan during the morning rush hour Wednesday, killing nine people and injuring nearly 1,000.

At least nine people have been reported killed and over 900 injured in Taiwan after the island’s east coast was hit by a 7.4 magnitude earthquake on Wednesday, the most powerful shock recorded in the last 25 years.  

The epicentre near Hualien city

The epicentre is located about 18km south of Taiwan’s Hualien city at a depth of 34.8 kilometers according to the U.S . Geological Survey.

The quake struck just before 8 a.m., local time, according to Taiwan’s national fire agency and was followed by several strong aftershocks with tremors felt across the island, including the capital Taipei, where tiles fell from older buildings, and schools evacuated their students to sports fields, equipping them with yellow safety helmets. Television images showed neighbours and rescue workers lifting residents through windows and onto the street, after doors fused shut in the shaking.

Taiwan is regularly jolted by quakes and its population is among the best prepared for them, but authorities said they had expected a relatively mild earthquake and accordingly did not send out alerts.  

Traffic along the east coast was at a virtual standstill after the earthquake, with landslides and falling debris hitting highways and tunnels where dozens of people have remained trapped. Five of the dead – including three hikers on a nearby trail – died from falling rocks, officials say.

 Train service was suspended across the island of 23 million people, with some tracks twisted by the stress of the quake, as was subway service in  aipei, where sections of a newly constructed elevated line split apart but did not collapse.

No Catholic faithful injured in the Dioces of Hualien 

The Bishop of Hualien Philip Huang reported that no parish church or building in his diocese was damaged by the earthquake and that no Catholic faithful was injured. As the aftershocks continue,  he invited all parish priests and parishioners continue to remain vigilant and tay away from buildings and seek refuge in open spaces.

(Source: news agencies) Vatican News