Moderate earthquake hits Taiwan, centered near Tainan City

PUBLISHED Fri, February 10, 2017 - 12:35pm EST
Credit: USGS

A moderate earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.6 has struck halfway between Tainan and Kaohsiung in southwest Taiwan, seismologists and residents say. Only few details were immediately available. (more)

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The earthquake, which struck at 1:12 a.m. local time on Saturday, was centered about 19 kilometers (12 miles) south of Tainan, or 23 kilometers (14 miles) northwest of Kaohsiung. It struck at a depth of 18 kilometers (11 miles), making it a very shallow earthquake.

Both the Taiwan Central Weather Bureau and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) put the magnitude of Saturday's earthquake at 5.6. The Central Weather Bureau said shaking was felt across southern and central parts of the island, with the strongest shaking in Tainan City and Kaohsiung City.

While it was not immediately known whether the earthquake had caused damage or casualties, several residents described their experiences. It was a "very sudden large jolt," one resident near the epicenter told the seismological agency EMSC, while a second resident called it "pretty scary."

Located along the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, Taiwan is at times rattled by moderate to strong earthquakes. A powerful 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck central Taiwan in September 1999, killing at least 2,297 people and injuring nearly 9,000 others.

More recently, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck southwest Taiwan on February 6, killing 117 people and injuring more than 500 others.

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