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Phivolcs lifts tsunami alert after powerful quake strikes Taiwan

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Upon further evaluation, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) canceled the tsunami warning it issued Wednesday morning when a 7.4-magnitude tremor jolted Hualien County in Taiwan.

“Based on available data of our sea level monitoring stations facing the epicentral area, no significant sea level disturbances have been recorded since 07:58 AM up until this cancellation,” Phivolcs said in its latest bulletin as of 10:33 a.m.

“With this, any effects due to the tsunami warning have largely passed and therefore DOST-PHIVOLCS has now canceled all Tsunami Warnings issued for this event. This will be the final tsunami information issued for this event,” the state seismic agency added.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center released a similar announcement, saying the tsunami threat from a major earthquake in Taiwan “has now passed.” Authorities in Taipei said no injuries or deaths had been reported so far, but people near coastal areas were advised to stay alert.

The quake hit just before 8:00 am local time (0000 GMT) and had a magnitude of 7.4 (initially 7.5), according to the US Geological Survey. This triggered tsunami warnings in Taiwan, southern Japan and the Philippines.

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Phivolcs raised a tsunami alert at 8:17 a.m., covering the coastal areas of Batanes Group of Islands, Cagayan, Ilocos Norte and Isabela. Residents were strongly advised to brace for tsunami waves and immediately evacuate to higher lands. 

By 10:03 a.m. Taiwan time, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said “the tsunami threat has now largely passed,” but that people near coastal areas should stay alert.

An emergency message sent out by authorities around 10:14 am Taiwan time said “the tsunami triggered by the earthquake has gradually reached the coast of Taiwan.”

“People in coastal areas are reminded to be vigilant and take strict precautions and pay attention to the dangers caused by sudden surges in waves.”

A fire department official in Hualien county—near the epicenter of the earthquake—told Agence France Presse (AFP) that “two buildings had collapsed and some people are believed to be trapped.”

He provided no additional information.

In a televised national briefing, Taiwan’s National Fire Agency said 26 buildings were reported “to tilt or collapse”, though it gave no details on the location of the structures.

It also said no deaths or injuries have been reported so far.

The island of Taiwan is prone to earthquakes, with its residents accustomed to frequent tremors. – With AFP

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