Resilience in the face of devastation: Taiwan’s earthquake preparedness and response

9 people killed and dozens trapped in Taiwan following the most powerful earthquake in 25 years

On Wednesday morning, a devastating earthquake struck the east coast of Taiwan, causing at least nine deaths and more than 900 injuries. The magnitude of the quake is still being debated, with Taiwanese officials reporting it as having a magnitude of 7.2 while the U.S. Geological Survey registered it as 7.4. The earthquake hit southwest of Hualien City at 7:58 a.m. local time and was followed by powerful aftershocks.

The quake triggered landslides and caused power outages across the island, leaving 77 people trapped in tunnels and beneath collapsed buildings. Despite its strength, Taiwan’s buildings are designed to withstand such events, and its population is well-trained for emergency response due to the frequent earthquakes that occur on the island due to its location along the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire.”

The interaction between the Philippine Sea plate and the Eurasian plate in Taiwan generates reverse faults that lift one plate above another, resulting in seismic activity on the island. Since 1980, around 2,000 earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 or greater have been recorded on the island, making it one of the most seismically active regions in the world. The deadliest earthquake in Taiwan’s recent history was a magnitude 7.7 Chi-Chi quake in 1999, which resulted in thousands of deaths and significant damage across the country.

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