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Magnitude 7.4 earthquake jolts Taiwan

Taiwan’s biggest earthquake in the last 25 years struck the territory’s east coast around 07:58 local time on April 3, 18 kilometers (11 miles) south of Hualien City. The quake occurred at a depth of 34.8 kilometers (21 miles). At the time of writing, the human toll stands at nine deaths, 934 people injured, and 56 others still trapped under road tunnels and buildings.

Extensive tremors shake the region

Tremors were felt as far away as Okinawa, Japan, Fujian and Shanghai, China and the Philippines. Following the earthquake, authorities in Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines all issued tsunami warnings. The warnings covered the coastal areas of north-eastern Taiwan and the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa. In the Philippines, the tsunami warnings affected the northern provinces of Batanes, Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, and Isabela. Evacuations also occurred in these areas of the Philippines as a precaution. At the time of writing, authorities had already lifted these warnings.

The full extent of the damage in Taiwan is still being assessed, but authorities have already launched recovery efforts, particularly in Hualien County, where extensive damage was reported following the quake. Operational disruptions have also been confirmed by more than a dozen electronics and semiconductor manufacturers across the country. With damage assessments and recovery efforts only just beginning, those doing business in Taiwan should prepare for further transportation and business disruptions in the coming days as well.

Multiple aftershocks occur in Hualien County following magnitude 7.4 earthquake

Following the magnitude 7.4 earthquake, several major aftershocks were reported in Hualien County. According to the Central Weather Administration, seven back-to-back aftershocks were observed. Most notably, the United States Geological Survey informed that a magnitude 6.5 aftershock occurred 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) north-east of Hualien City at 08:11 local time. Other major aftershocks of magnitude 4.4, 4.9, 4.6, and 5.6 were also recorded in the hours following the initial earthquake.

So far, damages have been confirmed to more than 100 buildings across the country, with more than half of the affected buildings located in Hualien County alone. Due to rockfall and landslides, regional road and rail connections have also been disrupted.

Authorities have closed the Suhua Highway, which connects Su’ao Township in Yilan County to Hualien City in Hualien County, until further notice following at least nine confirmed landslides and rockfalls along the route. Another unspecified highway linking eastern Taiwan to the western parts of the country was also damaged by rockfall. Meanwhile, rail links between Yilan County and Taitung County that cross through Hualien Country are expected to remain suspended well into the night of April 3.

The earthquake also resulted in an estimated 91,000 customers temporarily losing electricity supply. At the time of writing, Taipower Company, the territory’s utility provider, confirmed that power had been restored to most of the affected areas. Taiwan’s two nuclear power stations reportedly remained unaffected by the earthquakes.

Semiconductor and electronics industries report operational disruptions

The initial earthquake and the series of aftershocks that followed triggered operational halts in industrial clusters located in nearby counties including Yilan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, and Nantou. Several companies in the semiconductor, electronics, and chemicals industries have reported material damages, preventive stoppages, and facility evacuations in the hours following the first quake.

In total, more than a dozen manufacturers in the semiconductor, electronics and chemicals industries have so far confirmed operational disuptions. As damage assessments and repair work get underway, further localized business disruptions remain likely, particularly in areas where roads and buildings sustained the most extensive damages.

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