Powerful Earthquake Hits Taiwan, Partially Collapses Hotel

Image: AP
Image: AP

A powerful earthquake struck Taiwan today, causing damage and a partially collapsed hotel building, sources report.


The USGS reports that the magnitude 6.4 quake struck 21 kilometers (13 miles) north of the city of Hualien at 10:50 U.S. Eastern Time, at a shallow 9.5 kilometers (6 miles) below the surface. No tsunami warnings have been issued.

The English-language Taiwan News and the BBC report that a number of buildings have collapsed in Hualien City, including a roof of a hotel. There are no reports of injuries yet. Residents as far away as Taipei (around 120 kilometers (75 miles) north) could feel tremors.

This is the second powerful earthquake in the area in just a few days. A magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck in nearly the same spot on Sunday (Monday Taiwan time).

Taiwan’s location on the geologically active Pacific Ring of Fire means they’re no stranger to tremors. Many of the country’s buildings are built to withstand some shaking.

With a quake of this size there’s always the potential for aftershocks. “We haven’t seen any large enough here to record yet,” John Bellini from the USGS told Gizmodo. “But don’t have the local instrumentation they would have. I wouldn’t be surprised for there to be a number of aftershocks in the next couple of days.”

This story is developing. We will update the post when we know more.

[via Taiwan News and USGS]

Update 2:30PM ET: The BBC reports two confirmed dead and at least 100 injuries. Some are still trapped inside of the half-collapsed hotel and are shining the flashlights on their phones so responders know they’re there. 28 have been rescued from other collapsed buildings. Today’s quake occurred on the second anniversary of another that killed 117 two years ago.


Update 2/7/18 10:15AM ET: USA Today reports the death toll is up to six. There are power outages and water has been cut to thousands of residents. Reuters reports that 60 are missing.

Former Gizmodo physics writer and founder of Birdmodo, now a science communicator specializing in quantum computing and birds



Many of the country’s buildings are built to withstand some shaking.

Yyeah.. the buildings in these photos don’t look like they were designed to withstand ANY shaking. A 6.1 magnitude earthquake is a lot, I agree, but for an earthquake-active location like that 6.1 shouldn’t be too much. Like that big-ass leaning building probably should’ve had some piles or something instead of the shallow foundations it seems to have been built with. From that photo, one can tell that the structural integrity of the building ground up is solid but the foundations were too shallow to keep the building in place or the soil has failed and that’s still some bad geotechnical engineering. SMH