Wed, Mar 30, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Quake leaves Taiwan unscathed

AFTERSHOCK No Taiwanese were injured by Monday's earthquake in Indonesia, although local forecasters are predicting torrential rains, strong winds and lightning

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The massive earthquake that struck western Indonesia's Nias island on Monday has had no significant impact on Taiwan, seismologists said yesterday.

They added that there was no risk that earthquakes occurring so far away would cause a threat of tsunamis in Taiwan.

The quake sparked panic across Asia that it would trigger another devastating tsunami.

Seismologists of the Central Weather Bureau said yesterday that their equipment detected seismic waves 16 minutes after the quake occurred. Ten minutes after that, they were alerted by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Bureau seismologists said they believe that the quake was an aftershock following 9.0-magnitude temblor of Dec. 26 last year, which triggered a tsunami that left nearly 300,000 people dead or missing across Asia.

"After the deadly quake last December, scientists have been paying attention to a seismic fault stretching over more than 1,000km. So the occurrence of the quake measuring 8.7 did not surprise seismologists at all," said Kuo Kai-wen (郭鎧紋), director of the bureau's seismology center.

Kuo said that Monday's earthquake, which had an epicenter around 30km beneath the earth, only caused a "slight tsunami" with 25cm-high waves.

According to Lu Pei-ling (呂佩玲), the center's deputy chief, Taiwan's distance from the epicenter limited the earthquake's effects.

"In addition, the Indo-China peninsula and the Indonesian archipelagoes reduced the effect of the earthquake on Taiwan," Lu said.

Lu said that aftershocks of the Dec. 26 quake are likely to occur for the next four or five years, although the severity of these quakes would gradually decrease.

However, bureau officials said yesterday that tourists traveling to southern Asia should keep in mind that earthquakes measuring 7 or 8 on the Richter scale might keep occurring over the next year or two.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported yesterday that there were no Taiwanese among the casualties of the Nias earthquake.

Gary Lin (林松煥), director general of the ministry's Department of East Asia and Pacific Affairs, said that Taiwan's representative to Indonesia, David Lin (林永樂), has conveyed condolences to the Indonesian government on behalf of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山).

Gary Lin said that Taiwan's representative office in Jakarta is still considering whether to offer aid to the affected region.

Meanwhile, forecasters of the Central Weather Bureau issued a warning of torrential rains yesterday afternoon.

They urged people in northern and northeastern Taiwan to be alert to the possibility of mudflows and landslides in mountainous areas.

Forecasters said that rains are expected nationwide until Sunday. They urged residents to take steps to prevent possible damage caused by gusts and lightning.

(additional reporting by Melody Chen)

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