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US offers help as nine die, 1,000 injured in Taiwan earthquake

At least nine people lost their lives, and more than 1,000 sustained injuries as a powerful earthquake struck Taiwan on Wednesday. The tremor caused extensive damage to numerous buildings and prompted tsunami warnings that extended as far as Japan and the Philippines before being lifted.

Dozens of individuals were believed to be safe but stranded in areas inaccessible due to massive landslides triggered by the earthquake. Many were trapped in tunnels that traverse the mountains, effectively dividing the island from north to south.

Officials described the earthquake as the strongest to hit Taiwan in decades and cautioned the public to brace for potential aftershocks in the coming days. Despite the severity of the quake, Taiwan’s strict building regulations and widespread disaster awareness helped prevent a major catastrophe in the earthquake-prone region, situated near the convergence of two tectonic plates.

One resident, surnamed Chang, recounted a near-miss when a printing press warehouse adjacent to her home collapsed during the quake, trapping 50 individuals inside. Miraculously, all were rescued safely. While the quake caused significant damage, including fallen decorations inside homes, most people escaped unharmed.

According to Wu Chien-fu, director of Taipei’s Central Weather Administration’s Seismology Centre, the magnitude-7.4 earthquake was the most powerful since a 7.6-magnitude quake struck in September 1999, claiming approximately 2,400 lives in Taiwan’s deadliest natural disaster.

The earthquake struck just before 8 am local time, with the epicenter located 18 kilometers south of Taiwan’s Hualien City, at a depth of 34.8 kilometers. Tragically, three individuals hiking in the hills surrounding the city were crushed to death by dislodged boulders, while three others died in vehicular accidents caused by falling rocks. Additionally, one person lost their life at a quarry.

The National Fire Agency reported that all fatalities occurred in Hualien county, with 1,011 people sustaining injuries across Taiwan, although the severity of these injuries was not specified.

In response to the disaster, the United States expressed readiness to provide assistance to Taiwan. The White House assured that they were monitoring the situation closely and stood prepared to offer any necessary support.

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