Shaking felt in Taipei as 5.6-magnitude quake hits Taiwan

A shakemap released by the USGS shows the location of a 5.6 magnitude earthquake striking some 14km east-southeast of Su'ao Township in Yilan County, off the coast of northeast Taiwan on May 12, 2016.
A shakemap released by the USGS shows the location of a 5.6 magnitude earthquake striking some 14km east-southeast of Su'ao Township in Yilan County, off the coast of northeast Taiwan on May 12, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

TAIPEI (AFP) - Buildings shook violently in Taiwan's capital Taipei on Thursday (May 12) as a 5.6-magnitude quake hit off the island's north-east coast, with strong aftershocks.

The shallow quake struck at a depth of 10km at 11.17am local time, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said, just east of the coastal city of Yilan, 60km from Taipei.

There were only reports of minor damage, according to the Yilan fire department.

AFP reporters in Taipei said Thursday's quake rocked high-rise blocks.

There were also reports by local media of power cuts and people trapped in lifts, with children fleeing screaming from classrooms in Yilan.

A 5.5-magnitude aftershock swayed buildings in Taipei around 12.30pm, its epicentre also just off Taiwan's north-east coast, USGS said.

Taiwan's central weather bureau earlier reported two other aftershocks, both with a magnitude of 4.4.

They come after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake in February left 117 dead when an apartment complex collapsed in the southern city of Tainan.

That quake also raised questions over shoddy construction - five people have been charged over the deadly building collapse.

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

A 6.3-magnitude quake that hit central Taiwan in June 2013 killed four people and caused widespread landslides.

The island's worst quake disaster came in September 1999 when a 7.6-magnitude earthquake killed around 2,400 people.