[ 2006-12-27 09:22 ]
meteorologist at Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau in Taipei points to a
graph showing the tremors of an earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter
scale that rattled the island December 26, 2006. [Reuters]
powerful earthquake struck off southwestern Taiwan on Tuesday, triggering a
tsunami warning on the second
anniversary of the waves that killed more than 200,000 in southern Asia.
Two hours later, seismologists lifted the warning, saying the threat of
destructive waves had passed.
Taiwanese media reported two persons were killed.
Reports said that many streets in the city were cracked and a major bridge
was damaged. Several fires broke out in the area, apparently caused by downed
electric power cables.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake, which hit at 8:26 p.m. (1226 GMT),
registered magnitude 7.2, while
Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau measured it at 6.7. It was followed eight
minutes later by an aftershock
registering 7.0, the USGS said.
According to China Seismological Bureau, two earthquakes -- the first
measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale and the second measuring 6.7 -- hit the South
China Sea on Tuesday. The epicenter
was located at 21.9 degrees north latitude and 120.6 degrees east longitude,
about 350 kilometers from the Chinese mainland and 15 kilometers from Taiwan.
Philippine police said coastal areas had been alerted.
The warning underscored the higher level of caution about tsunami waves in
the region since a massive earthquake off Indonesia exactly two years earlier
triggered a powerful tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people in a
Tuesday's quake was felt throughout Taiwan. It swayed buildings and knocked
objects off the shelves in the city of Taipei, in the northern part of the
island. Phone lines were cut in the southern cities of Kaohsiung and Pingtung,
possibly hindering reports of damage by residents, the CTI Cable News reported.
Several high-rise hotels swayed violently in Kaohsiung.
"The building swayed so badly that many guests panicked and ran out of their
rooms and into the streets," she said.
The tremor was centered at sea about 23 kilometers (13 miles) southwest of
Hengchun on the southern tip of Taiwan, the bureau said. Hengchun is about 450
kilometers (260 miles) south of Taipei. Quakes frequently shake Taiwan, which is
part of the Pacific's "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines
encircling the Pacific Basin. Most are minor and cause little or no damage.
However, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake in central Taiwan in September 1999 killed
more than 2,300 people.