Spanning most if not all of the coastal regions in the Pacific Ocean is a region famously known as the Ring of Fire. Heavy plate tectonic activity within this zone has been the perennial cause of various natural disasters in the nations that fall within the ring. As the name implies, the primary natural disaster wrought by the Ring of Fire are volcanic eruptions; it does contain about two-thirds of the world’s total number of volcanoes, after all. But aside from that, the ring also triggers powerful earthquakes sometimes accompanied by tsunamis. The former actually visited Taiwan this past weekend.
Reuters has it that a series of earthquakes struck southeastern Taiwan last September 17 and 18, 2022. The first occurred Saturday and measured 6.4 in magnitude, followed by a stronger 6.8 magnitude tremor on Sunday. The epicenter according to the Taiwanese central weather bureau was in Taitung County. The tectonic activity most likely responsible is the convergence of the Eurasian Plate and Philippine Plate, with Taiwan lying near its boundary just northwest. While no casualties were reported in the first quake, the second racked up several injuries, one death, hundreds stranded and various infrastructural damages.
In nearby Yuli township, a three-story building housing a convenience store collapsed, with four people evacuated from the ruins. Yuli also reported the first fatality of the earthquakes, a cement factory worker. At Dongli train station in eastern Taiwan, the platform canopy partially collapsed, causing six railway carriages to derail. Furthermore, road damage led to around 600 tourists and locals being trapped on the scenic Liushshi and Chike mountainous areas. Tremors also led to electricity and telecommunications being knocked out in Taitung and neighboring places. Miraculously the toll in casualties has been remarkably low. The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued warnings, but it has since been rescinded. The Japan Meteorological Agency also gave (and repealed) similar warnings to Okinawa.
Central Weather Bureau noted that the earthquakes were felt further inland, with tremors being recorded in Taipei. West of Taipei, in Taoyuan, a sports venue shuddered significantly enough to send athletes inside scrambling when part of the ceiling collapsed, causing one injury. Still, science facilities in Kaohsiung and Tainan, both in southern Taiwan, reported that the quakes did not hamper their semiconductor factory operations. At latest report, aftershocks continue to be felt across Taiwan, but for the most part the worst seems to be over.
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