Four strong earthquakes hit Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan - A magnitude 6.3 earthquake - the strongest recorded so far this year - struck the northeastern coast of Taiwan at 9:42 a.m. yesterday.

The temblor was followed by magnitude 5.5, 5.8 and 5.7 earthquakes at 7:20 p.m., 7:45 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., respectively.

The magnitude 6.3 earthquake, felt across Taiwan and recorded in Japan at magnitude 6.8, left one person dead in New Taipei City.

An 84-year-old man died in a fire when an electrical transformer exploded in his home due to the temblor.

The quake caused a slight delay in the national railway service as trains slowed speed for safety, while high-speed trains were unaffected.

In Taipei City's Zhongshan District, the morning temblor damaged a mechanical parking tower and resulted in a car pile-up with no casualties.

Damages to Schools

A preliminary assessment from Ministry of Education estimates quake damages to school property at NT$770,000 (S$33,500)

At least 19 public schools have reported damages including fallen concrete in corridors, broken floor tiles, lights knocked askew and ceiling damage.

In Yilan County, where six schools were affected, the worst-hit was Dafu Elementary School with damages estimated at NT$120,000.

No faculty or students were reported injured and no classes were cancelled, according to the MOE.

Two Aftershocks and Another Magnitude 5.5 Quake

Seismology Center Deputy Director Lu Pei-ling said two of the temblors that struck yesterday evening, the 5.8 and the 5.7, were aftershocks of the morning quake.

The magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit approximately 76.2 kilometers east of Hualien County Hall at a depth of 17.5 km, and the two evening aftershocks occurred in its proximity.

The epicenter of the magnitude 5.5 earthquake at 7:45 p.m. was located at sea about 42.4 kilometers southeast of Hualien at a depth of 32.6 km and was not an aftershock, Lu said.