CNN (Link) - Christine Theodorou and Andrew Lee (March 4, 2010)
A 6.4-magnitude earthquake jolted southern Taiwan on Thursday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. There were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths but some damage has occurred to buildings and major bridges, and power was cut off near the epicenter.
The quake struck at about 8:20 a.m. (7:20 p.m. Wednesday ET) in a mountainous region about 25 miles northwest of Taitung, on the southeast coast, and 40 miles east of Tainan and Kaohsiung on the southwest coast.
The region, which includes Maolin National Scenic Area, is recovering from a direct hit by Typhoon Morakot that killed hundreds in August. The typhoon dumped more than two feet of rain, causing serious mudslides in the south, including one that buried the village of Shiao Lin under 50 feet of mud.
Thursday’s quake was followed by several aftershocks, the largest reaching 4.8. The initial 6.4 quake rumbled to the surface from 14 miles deep. Were you there? Did you feel it?
The Taiwan Ministry of Interior and the National Fire Agency said electricity was cut off near the epicenter but had no further information.
Residents in southern Taiwan reported cracks in some buildings and major bridges. Train service was also disrupted in some areas, Taiwanese media reported.
Albert Yu, communications manager of the humanitarian organization World Vision, told CNN he was about halfway through a 90-minute trip via high-speed train from Taipei to Tainan when the quake struck. Passengers did not feel the quake, he said, but operators stopped the train and announced what had happened. More than an hour later, the train had not resumed its journey.
“The operator is examining the train and the tracks,” he said, adding that there was a concern about the stability of the area, particularly after the typhoon. “Inside the train, people are calm and are waiting it out -- opening laptops, starting to work and chatting with people around them.”
Yu said World Vision “has already been on high alert responding to the quakes in Haiti and Chile, so we’re closely monitoring reports in the earthquake in southern Taiwan.”
Residents in the capital Taipei, 155 miles to the north, also felt the shaking.
Earthquakes are not uncommon in the 13,892-square-mile island -- about the size of the U.S. states of Maryland and Delaware combined -- which sits across the juncture of the Eurasian and Philippine tectonic plates.
A 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck the same general region in December. The island took a double hit on December 26, 2006, when earthquakes of 7.1 and 6.9 magnitude hit eight minutes apart.
The largest recorded quake to strike Taiwan was an 8.0-magnitude quake in 1920, but the worst earthquake disaster stemmed from a 7.1-magnitude quake in 1935 that killed more than 3,200 people -- followed by a 6.5-magnitude quake that killed more than 2,700 people three months later.
More recently, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake killed more than 2,400 people in 1999.