M6.1 earthquake jolts Taiwan, causing highrises in Taipei to sway violently and school children to flee their classrooms

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A 6.1-magnitude earthquake has jolted Hualien, Taiwan, causing highrises in Taipei to sway violently and school children to flee their classrooms in eastern Yilan county on April 18, 2019 (UTC). The same city was hit by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake last year that killed 17 people.

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A strong M6.1 earthquake hit Hualien, Taiwan on April 18, 2019. via USGS

A magnitude 6.1 earthquake has struck Taiwan’s coastal city of Hualien, shaking buildings and temporarily suspending subway services in the capital Taipei, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

Local television footage showed school children being evacuated from buildings, while a weather bureau official said Thursday’s quake was the largest to hit the island so far this year.

It struck at 1:01pm local time (05:01 GMT) at a depth of 18km.

Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is prone to earthquakes. More than 100 people were killed in an earthquake in the island’s south in 2016, and in 1999, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake killed more than 2,000 people. 

We felt the quake move the building vertically and that’s more serious than normal,” Georgia Kao, a Taipei resident explained.

I felt very scared. It reminded me of the 1999 earthquake. The building moved up and down and then right to left. The first thing I did was to open my door and grab both my daughters. Luckily, it didn’t last very long.

The United States Geological Survey put the magnitude of the earthquake at 6.4 before being downgraded to M6.1.

The Japan Meteorological Agency warned that people living near the coast could notice some effects on sea levels, but said there would be no tsunami.

Due to this earthquake, Japan’s coastal areas may observe slight changes on the oceanic surface, but there is no concern about damage,” the agency said.

Hualien was hit by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake last year that killed 17 people.

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[USGS, Al Jazeera]

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