Taiwan hit by 'strongest earthquake in 25 years

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Authorities have confirmed at least one fatality and dozens of injuries. Meanwhile, Japan has lowered its previous tsunami warning to an "advisory."

The Central Weather Administration (CWA) of Taiwan reported that a 7.2 magnitude earthquake occurred near the island on Wednesday morning. The quake struck at a depth of 15.5 kilometers (9.6 miles), with the epicenter approximately 25 kilometers southeast of Hualien city.

TVBS, a Taiwanese broadcaster, shared footage showing a collapsed building.

AFP news agency, citing a fire department official from Hualien, reported that buildings had collapsed. According to the official, "Two buildings have collapsed and some people are believed to be trapped. We don't have more information at the moment."

Wu Chien-fu, the director of Taipei's Seismology Centre, informed reporters that the earthquake was "the strongest in 25 years." He stated, "The earthquake is close to land and it's shallow. It's felt all over Taiwan and offshore islands... it's the strongest in 25 years since the (1999) earthquake," referring to a September 1999 quake measuring 7.6 magnitude that resulted in the deaths of 2,400 people.

Wu emphasized the importance of the public paying attention to relevant warnings and messages and being prepared for earthquake evacuation. Taiwan experiences regular seismic activity due to its proximity to the junction of two tectonic plates. Nearby Japan also experiences approximately 1,500 seismic jolts every year.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) downgraded an earlier tsunami warning for Japan's southern islands to a "tsunami advisory," stating that waves as high as 1 meter (3.3 feet) could be recorded in the region. At 9:18 a.m. local time (0018 UTC), the JMA reported that a 30 cm tsunami reached Yonaguni Island.

Japanese authorities issued an evacuation advisory for coastal areas near the southern prefecture of Okinawa, with banners on Japanese national broadcaster NHK urging people to evacuate immediately. An NHK anchor emphasized, "Tsunami is coming. Please evacuate immediately. Do not stop. Do not go back."

Japan's Self Defense Force dispatched aircraft to gather information about the potential impact of tsunami waves around the Okinawa region and prepared shelters for evacuees if necessary.

AFP news agency reported that flights at Naha Airport in Okinawa had been suspended as a precautionary measure, according to a transport ministry official.

In March 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck the main Japanese island of Honshu, triggering a tsunami. This event disabled the power supply, causing three reactors at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant to overheat and resulting in a nuclear disaster. The catastrophe led to approximately 18,500 deaths or people reported missing.

The Philippines also issued warnings of "high tsunami waves" and urged the evacuation of coastal areas. According to the state seismology institute, "The people in the coastal areas of the following provinces are strongly advised to immediately evacuate to higher grounds or move farther inland."

The advisory covered 23 provinces where "high tsunami waves" were expected to hit. The first tsunami waves were anticipated to arrive between 0033 and 0233 UTC, with a caution that these might not be the largest and that the waves could persist for hours.