A magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck off Taiwan’s east coast at 2:23pm yesterday, causing train delays and affecting more than 3,000 railway passengers.
No damage or casualties were reported as of press time last night.
The quake’s epicenter was 89.5km east of Hualien County Hall at a depth of 27.5km, Central Weather Bureau data showed.
Photo courtesy of the New Taipei City Government
The largest intensity generated by the temblor, which was felt nationwide, reached level 3, which was detected in Taipei and New Taipei City, as well as Yilan, Hualien and Taitung counties, the bureau said.
The bureau recorded two aftershocks: a magnitude 5.4 quake at 2:24pm and a magnitude 5.2 quake at 3:45pm.
Seventeen of the Taiwan Railways Administration’s train services were delayed because of the quake, affecting about 2,680 passengers, the agency said.
Taoyuan Metro Corp reported that 16 of its airport train services were disrupted by the quake, affecting 574 passengers.
The epicenter was located at the north edge of the Nanao Sea Basin, close to the location of a magnitude 6 earthquake that occurred on Jan. 3, Bureau Seismological Center Director Chen Kuo-chang (陳國昌) said.
While yesterday’s quake was the sixth one this year to exceed a magnitude 6, it was not related to the magnitude 6.7 earthquake that occurred on March 23, he said.
On average, Taiwan has two to three magnitude 6 earthquakes per year, bureau statistics showed.
“We are indeed seeing more frequent occurrences of earthquakes this year,” Chen said.
Since 1978, 21 earthquakes larger than magnitude 6 have been recorded in and around the Nanao Sea Basin, including yesterday’s quake.
Because of the basin’s distance from Taiwan proper, earthquakes that originate there generally lead to less building damage, he said.
Although aftershocks of magnitude 4 to 5 could continue to occur over the next five days, aftershocks larger than magnitude 5 are less likely to occur, Chen said.
The public warning system only issued an earthquake alert message to residents in Yilan County, as the county’s earthquake intensity was estimated to be close to level 4, the threshold for the system to issue a warning for quakes of a magnitude 5 or larger, he said, adding that a margin of error of about one level of intensity is acceptable.
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