7.5 magnitude earthquake rocks buildings in Taiwan, over 9-feet tsunami warning issued in Japan

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A powerful earthquake struck off Taiwan early Wednesday, rocking the entire island and collapsing buildings. Japan issued a tsunami alert for the southern Japanese island group of Okinawa. The Japan Meteorological Agency forecast a tsunami of up to 3 meters (9.8 feet) after the quake hit at 7:58 am. 

About half an hour later, it said the first wave of the tsunami was already believed to have arrived on the coasts of Miyako and Yaeyama islands. 

Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring agency gave the magnitude as 7.2 while the US Geological Survey put it at 7.5. Television showed buildings in Taiwan’s eastern city of Hualien shaken off their foundations. 

The quake could be felt in the capital Taipei. 
“Tsunami is coming. Please evacuate immediately,” an anchor on NHK said. “Do not stop. Do not go back.”

Live TV footage from the Okinawa region’s ports, including Naha, showed vessels heading out to sea, possibly in efforts to protect their ships.

Taiwan is regularly hit by earthquakes because the island lies near the junction of two tectonic plates.

A 7.6-magnitude jolt hit Taiwan in September 1999, killing around 2,400 people in the deadliest natural disaster in the island’s history.

Japan experiences around 1,500 jolts every year.

The vast majority are mild, although the damage they cause varies according to the depth of the epicentre below the Earth’s surface and its location.

The severity of tsunamis — vast and potentially destructive series of waves that can move at hundreds of miles (kilometres) per hour — also depends upon multiple factors.

Even larger quakes usually cause little damage in Japan and Taiwan thanks to special construction techniques and strict building regulations.

Japan has also developed sophisticated procedures and technology to alert and evacuate people when needed.

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