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Taiwan earthquake: what is known and what happens next

Earlier today (April 3), a major earthquake of magnitude 7.4 struck the central east coast of Taiwan, roughly 20 kilometers south of the city of Hualien.

Locals near the epicenter described severe to violent ground shaking during the quake – strong enough to make standing and driving a vehicle difficult. It was reportedly felt across the country, as well as in neighboring China.

So, what do we know so far about the quake and what the impacts may be?

Death and damage

News outlets have reported at least four people have died and dozens were injured as a result of the quake.

While much of Taiwan’s population lives on the west coast of the country, Hualien City is one of the largest population centers on the east coast. Its population is roughly 100,000.

Building damage has been reported in the region near the epicenter of the earthquake, including in Hualien City.

Landslides also occurred along the mountainous central east coast.

A tsunami warning was issued for Taiwan and nearby countries including Japan and the Philippines. At the time of writing, a 30 cm tsunami was reported along the south coast of Japan. This would have shown up as a noticeable swell on the shore but is unlikely to cause significant damage.

The biggest surge in a tsunami is not always the first surge so it is possible a larger tsunami wave may eventuate, but as time passes this becomes increasingly unlikely.

Was there any warning?

Although earthquakes cannot be predicted, Taiwan has an early warning system.

This system detects ground shaking as it happens in the epicentral region, and immediately sends an alert that travels faster than the seismic energy and associated ground shaking.

It likely provided crucial seconds of warning for those living away