7.4 magnitude quake hits Taiwan, strongest in 25 years

By Nectar Gan, Wayne Chang, Jerome Taylor, Antoinette Radford, Deva Lee and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 9:09 p.m. ET, April 3, 2024
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3:19 a.m. ET, April 3, 2024

Death toll in Taiwan earthquake rises to 7

From CNN's Wayne Chang

Seven people have been killed in Taiwan after a 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck the island's eastern coast on Wednesday morning, according to the National Fire Agency (NFA).

Another 736 people have been injured, the NFA said.

3:12 a.m. ET, April 3, 2024

Three people who died in Taiwan earthquake were hiking in Taroko Gorge

From CNN’s Wayne Chang and Manveena Suri

Three of the four people who died after the most powerful earthquake in 25 years hit Taiwan were hiking in Taroko Gorge, a popular tourist destination, according to the National Fire Agency (NFA).

The three people were struck by fallen rocks while hiking the Dekalun Trail in Taroko Gorge, a rugged marble-walled canyon famed for its raw natural beauty in Hualien County, the epicenter of the quake.

The fourth victim was a truck driver who was hit by fallen rocks outside a tunnel on the Suhua Highway, a major highway winding along steep cliffs of Taiwan's eastern coast that was severely damaged in the earthquake.

A section of the road outside the tunnel where the driver was killed had collapsed, according to earlier reports by Taiwan's television stations. The entire highway has been closed down following the quake.

2:52 a.m. ET, April 3, 2024

77 people trapped and 700 injured across Taiwan after powerful earthquake

From CNN's Wayne Chang

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and Executive Director Chen Jianren hold a press conference as they visit the Central Disaster Response Center to learn about the earthquake disaster and rescue response situation, in Taipei, Taiwan on April 3.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and Executive Director Chen Jianren hold a press conference as they visit the Central Disaster Response Center to learn about the earthquake disaster and rescue response situation, in Taipei, Taiwan on April 3. Taiwanese Presidential Office/Anadolu/Getty Images

At least 77 people are trapped across Taiwan after a powerful earthquake struck the island's eastern coast, according to the National Fire Agency (NFA).

Authorities did not elaborate on the condition of those trapped, but said that rescue operations were underway.

The 7.4 magnitude quake has killed four people and injured more than 700 others, according to NFA. Of those injured, 132 are in Hualien County, near the epicenter of the quake, the agency added.

2:33 a.m. ET, April 3, 2024

In pictures: Powerful earthquake causes damage and disruption across Taiwan

From CNN staff

Taiwan was struck by its strongest earthquake in 25 years on Wednesday when a 7.4 magnitude tremor struck the island's eastern coast, collapsing buildings, killing at least four people and triggering tsunami warnings across the region that were later lifted.

The tsunami warnings also prompted airlines and airports to suspend flights, which were later resumed.

In this image taken from a video run by TVBS, a partially collapsed building is seen in Hualien, eastern Taiwan on Wednesday, April 3.
In this image taken from a video run by TVBS, a partially collapsed building is seen in Hualien, eastern Taiwan on Wednesday, April 3. TVBS/AP

Fukuoka Airport was crowded with passengers after flight suspensions following a tsunami warning in Fukushima City on April 3.
Fukuoka Airport was crowded with passengers after flight suspensions following a tsunami warning in Fukushima City on April 3. The Yomiuri Shimbun/AP

A man stands along a sidewalk in Tokyo to watch a TV showing breaking news on a tsunami warning for Okinawa on April 3, 2024. 
A man stands along a sidewalk in Tokyo to watch a TV showing breaking news on a tsunami warning for Okinawa on April 3, 2024.  Eugene Hoshiko/AP

The earthquake damaged houses and roads in New Taipei City, Taiwan, on April 3.
The earthquake damaged houses and roads in New Taipei City, Taiwan, on April 3. An Rong Xu/Bloomberg/Getty Images

2:27 a.m. ET, April 3, 2024

More than 100 buildings damaged in Taiwan following earthquake

From CNN’s Wayne Chang and Manveena Suri

Firefighters work at the site where a building collapsed following the earthquake, in Hualien, Taiwan on April 3.
Firefighters work at the site where a building collapsed following the earthquake, in Hualien, Taiwan on April 3. Taiwan National Fire Agency/Reuters

The powerful tremors that rocked Taiwan on Wednesday morning have damaged 125 buildings across the island, according to the National Fire Agency (NFA).

About half of the damaged buildings are in Hualien County, near the epicenter of the earthquake, according to local officials.

Four buildings in the county had partially collapsed, Hualien County Magistrate Hsu Chen-wei said at a news conference Wednesday.

Residents from three of the buildings have been safely evacuated, while search and rescue operations continue at the nine-storey Uranus Building, which is leaning to the right after the ground floor collapsed, Hsu said.

Twenty-two people have been rescued from the Uranus Building, with efforts still underway to contact one remaining resident, according to the National Fire Agency.

1:35 a.m. ET, April 3, 2024

A powerful earthquake has struck Taiwan. Here's what we know

From CNN's Nectar Gan

Taiwan was struck by its strongest earthquake in 25 years on Wednesday when a 7.4 magnitude tremor struck the island's eastern coast, collapsing buildings, killing at least four people and prompting tsunami warnings across the region.

Here's what you need to know:

  • The quake: The earthquake hit at 7:58 a.m. local time, 18 kilometers (11 miles) south of the city of Hualien at a depth of 34.8 kilometers, according to the US Geological Survey.
  • Casualties: At least four people have died, including one who was hiking in Hualien County when the quake hit, according to Taiwan's National Fire Agency. At least 57 people have been injured.
  • Damage: Dozens of buildings in Hualien County have collapsed, trapping several people. The county was also hit by landslides and rockfalls, leading to the closure of a major coastal highway where multiple tunnels were damaged.
  • Tsunami warnings: The quake triggered tsunami warnings in Taiwan, southern Japan and the Philippines, with waves less than half a meter (about 1.5 feet) observed along some coasts. All tsunami warnings were later lifted.
  • Flights suspended: The tsunami warnings also prompted airlines and airports to suspend flights, which were later resumed.
  • Power cuts: More than 91,000 households were without electricity, according to Taiwan's Central Emergency Command Center.
  • Aftershocks: The quake was followed by several strong aftershocks, with tremors felt across the island, including in Taipei. Tremors as high as magnitude 7 are expected in the following days.
1:56 a.m. ET, April 3, 2024

What is the Ring of Fire?

From CNN staff

Taiwan is regularly rocked by earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire.

That's where the world’s most active volcanoes lie. It’s also where most earthquakes happen as tectonic plates push against each other, causing sudden releases of energy that result in tremors.

The “ring” stretches along a 25,000-mile (40,000-kilometer) arc from the boundary of the Pacific Plate, to smaller plates such as the Philippine Sea plate, to the Cocos and Nazca Plates that line the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

People most at risk from volcanic eruptions and earthquakes live in places that lie along the Ring of Fire, including Chile, Japan, the US west coast, and other island nations including the Solomon Islands to the western seaboard of North and South Americas.

Read more about the volatile arc.

7:05 a.m. ET, April 3, 2024

Experts dissect the data — and potential lessons — from Taiwan's latest earthquake

From CNN's Jerome Taylor

Each time a major earthquake strikes, academics around the world pore over data to assess how the tremor played out and what lessons might be learned.

Alan Collins, a geologist at the University of Adelaide, said Taiwan "lies at an incredibly interesting plate tectonic setting."

Wednesday's quake, he said, "formed as a thrust, where the crust is compressed horizontally and a part of the Earth’s surface is pushed up over the bit in front of it — a bit like a piggy-back".

While Taiwan has ample experience with earthquakes, they tend not to produce large waves, Anja Scheffers, a tsunami expert at Australia's Southern Cross University said.  

"There is no record of a tsunami occurring in the past one hundred years, and only very few historical records indicate that possible tsunami events occurred," she said.

The strength of a quake is also not the only thing that determines how dangerous it is. Building quality and the time of day a quake strikes are also key, according to experts.

"The timing of the earthquake was unfortunate, at 8:00 am, when people were mostly at home," said Iftekhar Ahmed, from the School of Architecture and Built Environment, at the University of Newcastle.
1:59 a.m. ET, April 3, 2024

Quake death toll rises to four people

From CNN's Wayne Chang

Four people have been killed in Taiwan after a 7.4 magnitude earthquake rocked the island, according to Taiwan's National Fire Agency (NFA).

The deaths all occurred in Hualien County, near the epicenter of the quake, according to NFA.

At least 57 people have been injured, with most of them reported in Hualien, the agency added.

The agency earlier said that one of the fatalities was a hiker.