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5.5-magnitude earthquake strikes Taiwan’s Hualien, shaking felt in Taipei

HomeTop News5.5-magnitude earthquake strikes Taiwan's Hualien, shaking felt in Taipei

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Just weeks after a catastrophic earthquake rocked eastern Taiwan, a powerful 5.5 magnitude temblor struck the same region again on Monday, violently shaking buildings as far away as the capital Taipei over 100 miles from the epicenter.

The shallow quake originated at 5:08 p.m. local time in Hualien County, according to Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau. But the shockwaves could be felt with alarming intensity across the entire island, sending panicked residents rushing into the streets of Taipei.

“It was one of the strongest jolts we’ve felt here since that devastating 7.4 quake earlier this month,” said an Agence France-Presse correspondent in Taipei, describing the ground convulsing beneath them. “The shaking just didn’t want to stop — it kept going and going, seeming more powerful with every passing second.”

The April 3rd magnitude 7.4 tremor in Hualien has already claimed 17 lives, with over a dozen people still missing and feared entombed under collapsed buildings and landslides triggered by the violent seismic activity. Hopes are fading of finding additional survivors after that catastrophic quake, which was Taiwan’s deadliest in over 20 years since a 7.6 magnitude earthquake killed over 2,400 people in 1999.

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Monday’s 5.5 magnitude quake was utterly terrifying for many in Taipei who haven’t yet recovered from the previous tremors. Residents described feeling an initial violent jolt that cascaded into a sickening, roller coaster-like wobbling that made it difficult to keep their balance.

“I was in my 14th floor apartment and everything started violently shaking — my desk was sliding across the room, books were falling off shelves, picture frames were crashing to the floor,” recounted Michael Chao, an American ex-pat working in Taipei’s financial district. “It was complete and utter chaos for what felt like an eternity before it finally started subsiding. I’ll never forget that nauseating heaving sensation.”

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Taiwan is unfortunately situated along the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire, where the Eurasian and Philippine Sea tectonic plates grind against each other. The island experiences frequent quakes as these plates are continuously shifting, building up massive seismic strain that is periodically unleashed through devastating tsunamis earthquakes.

Immediately after Monday’s strong 5.5 quake, Taiwan’s emergency responders fanned out to inspect for any new damage, disruptions or disasters. The Hualien fire department said teams were swiftly deployed even as aftershocks continued rippling across the region in the wake of the latest sizable tremor.

“We are investigating all potential impacts from this quake and aftershocks,” the department said in a statement. “We will continue monitoring conditions and provide timely updates on any incidents or situations as they develop.”

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So far, no reports of major damage or casualties have emerged from Monday’s 5.5 magnitude quake outside of some relatively minor shaking-related injuries. But the back-to-back severe seismic activity is putting immense strain on Taiwan’s emergency services across the eastern part of the island.

Rescue operations in the hardest hit areas around Hualien remain in a precarious race against time to locate any additional survivors from the April 3 quake before the next tropical storm or typhoon season for which the region is perpetually bracing. With tremors now hitting more frequently, that crucial emergency response window grows ever shorter.

Taiwan has stringent building codes requiring earthquake-resistant construction put in place after the devastating loss of life in 1999. But the one-two punch of powerful quakes within such a condensed timeframe may test those fortified structures beyond their limits while stretching rescue resources precariously thin.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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