More moderate to strong aftershocks can be expected in eastern Taiwan over the next two weeks in the wake of a magnitude 5.4 earthquake in that area early yesterday, the Central Weather Bureau warned.
As of 11am yesterday, a total of 58 aftershocks had been recorded in Hualien County after the main earthquake that occurred at 0:15am, the bureau said.
The quake’s center was located at sea 31.5km south of Hualien County Hall, at a depth of 10km, the bureau said. The tremor was felt at an intensity of 6 in the coastal area of Jici (磯崎).
The quake was followed by 58 others as of 11am yesterday, including one of magnitude 4.9 that struck at 3:30am and was centered in Shoufeng Township (壽豐).
The Hualien Fire Department said it had not received any -reports of major damage except for some blockage of mountain roads caused by falling rocks, which were all cleared before daybreak.
As the earthquake was strong and at a shallow depth, it is likely that aftershocks of magnitude 4 to 5 will continue over the next two weeks, the bureau’s seismology center director Kuo Kai-wen (郭鎧紋) said.
Kuo urged the public not to panic over the frequency of the aftershocks, saying they are just a normal release of energy.
Taiwan has been hit by a number of earthquakes this month, the strongest of which measured 6.5 on the Richter scale and was centered under the seabed off the east coast on Sunday. None of the quakes have caused casualties or major damage.
Eastern Taiwan’s location at the boundary of two tectonic plates — the Philippine Sea Plate and the Pacific Plate — makes it especially prone to earthquakes, Kuo said.
When a magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck central Taiwan on Sept. 21, 1999, about 1,000 aftershocks occurred the same day, he said.