A strong earthquake has struck Taiwan, killing one person and injuring at least 18 others.
The tremor, with magnitude 6.2, occurred in central Taiwan Sunday. It hit at 1.43 pm local time and was followed by a series of aftershocks, according to early reports.
The jolts shook buildings in the capital Taipei and sent residents and shoppers running into the streets. According to official reports, the tremor occurred at a shallow depth of only 6 miles.
The quake’s epicenter was near the township of Jenai in central Taiwan, according to initial reports. The quake also rattled the island’s capital of Taipei, about 150 miles north of the epicenter.
“The house was shaking but nothing fell,” one resident of the city said.
Taiwan’s Seismology center stated that the tremor was followed by a series of aftershocks. According to reports, the quake was also felt 435 miles away in Hong Kong.
Taiwan Fire Agency stated that a mountain climber was killed after being struck by falling rocks on Mount Ali in southern part of the island while driving in his car on a mountain road.
According to the agency, the strong Taiwan earthquake, set off sliding rocks injured many people at another scenic mountain area near the epicenter. A total of 18 people were reportedly injured, some by falling objects. Local TV footage also showed landslides, and clouds of dust, on other mountains in the area.
Some reports stated that the quake had triggered a gas explosion in the center of the island. No further details were available.
The quake also halted some high speed trains. Train services were resumed after no cracks were found on the lines.
According to reports a 12-story department store in the central city of Taichung shook violently for nearly a minute, sending panicked shoppers fleeing from the building. There were reports of falling ceilings and cracks in walls in numerous houses in the area.
Taiwan sits near the so-called ring of fire region of seismic activity around the Pacific Ocean which is prone to earthquakes.
In 1999, a devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck central Taiwan. This destructive tremor was followed by a series of more than 9,000 aftershocks. An estimated of 2,161 people died, approximately 8,736 were injured. According to official reports, 150 people are still listed as missing.
The Philippine archipelago also located in Pacific “Ring of Fire,” experienced a 5.7 magnitude late Saturday in the south. The quake reportedly damaged more than 30 houses and set off a landslide that blocked a road with rocks in the North Cotabato province, reports said.
“It’s a big relief that no motorist was passing through our highway when boulders rolled down from the mountainside, North Cotabato Governor, Emmylou Tolentino-Mendoza said.
According to Governor Tolentino-Mendoza, the quake also broke an approach to a bridge, rendering access to water supply lines in two villages impossible.
In addition, the earthquake also damaged a village school in Kimadzil. Governor Tolentino-Mendoza said residents there remained jittery Sunday because of continuing aftershocks. She added that she, herself, had to run out of her home, when the her house shook and objects started to fall from shelves.
By Perviz Walji