By NICK GARCIA Published Apr 03, 2024 5:28 pm

A major 7.4-magnitude earthquake hit Taiwan on Wednesday morning, April 3, killing at least seven people and leaving over 700 individuals injured.

The quake, Taiwan's strongest one in 25 years, hit just before 8 a.m. local time, with the United States Geological Survey putting the epicenter 18 kilometers (11 miles) south of Taiwan's Hualien City, at a depth of 34.8 km.

Dozens of buildings were damaged, prompting tsunami warnings that extended to Japan and the Philippines before being lifted.

A damaged building in Hualien after a major 7.4-magnitude earthquake hit Taiwan's east.

Tsunamis are vast and potentially destructive series of waves that can move at hundreds of kilometers per hour.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), in an advisory at 10:33 a.m., said there were no significant sea level disturbances that have been recorded since 7:58 a.m. based on available data of its sea level monitoring stations facing the epicentral area.

“With this, any effects due to the tsunami warning have largely passed and therefore DOST-PHIVOLCS has now cancelled all Tsunami Warnings issued for this event,” it said. “This will be the final tsunami information issued for this event.”

Emergency workers attend to an earthquake survivor.

Emergency workers at a damaged establishment in New Taipei City

PHIVOLCS initially recommended evacuating residents from the Batanes Group of Islands, Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, and Isabela.

Japan's Meteorological Agency, meanwhile, previously issued a warning for tsunami waves as high as three meters (10 feet) for remote Japanese islands in the region, including Miyakojima island. 

In Taiwan, authorities shared a tsunami alert via text message "to remind people in coastal areas to be vigilant and take strict precautions and pay attention to the dangers caused by sudden surges in waves."

Bottles are strewn on the floor of a supermarket in Yilan due to the earthquake.

Officials said the quake and series of strong aftershocks were the strongest to shake Taiwan in decades, warning of more tremors in the days ahead.

People crowd due to tsunami warning at Naha Airport in Naha, Okinawa prefecture.

In the capital, the metro briefly stopped running but resumed within an hour, while residents received warnings from their local borough chiefs to check for gas leaks. 

An emergency worker erects a barricade around debris in the compound of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei.

Across the Taiwan Strait, social media users in China's eastern province of Fujian, which borders the southern province of Guangdong, and elsewhere said they also felt strong tremors.

This handout photo shows damage to a building in the National Hualien Girls' High School in Hualien.

China, which sees self-ruled Taiwan as a renegade province, was "paying close attention" to the quake and "willing to provide disaster relief assistance,” state news agency Xinhua said.

The vast majority of quakes around the area are mild, although the damage they cause varies according to the depth of the epicenter below the Earth's surface and its location.

Kindergarten children evacuate to a park on higher ground after receiving a tsunami warning in Naha, Okinawa prefecture.

Taiwan's last strongest earthquake was in September 1999.

Al Jazeera reported that the 7.6-magnitude earthquake killed around 2,400 people. It injured 100,000 and destroyed thousands of buildings

A firefighter runs past a damaged building in Hualien.

Military personnel aid in rescue and relief efforts by searching for survivors in a damaged building in Hualien.

Taiwan is regularly hit by earthquakes as the island lies near the junction of two tectonic plates. (with reports from AFP)