Strong earthquake hits off Taiwan's eastern coast

Commuters exit a Mass Rapid Transport station in Xindian in New Taipei City on Jan 3 after a strong earthquake struck off the coast of eastern Taiwan. PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI (AFP) - A strong earthquake struck off the coast of eastern Taiwan on Monday (Jan 3) evening, the Central Weather Bureau said, with shaking felt in the capital Taipei but no immediate reports of damage.

The weather bureau said the quake measured 6.0 in magnitude and hit at the relatively shallow depth of 19km.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) put the magnitude higher, at 6.2.

The epicentre was given in the sea, 56km east of the coastal city of Hualien.

The weather bureau said no immediate reports of damage had come in.

An AFP reporter in Taipei said buildings swayed violently when the tremor struck during the rush hour commute at 5.46pm.

"The shaking lasted for a good 20 seconds, with the ground moving left and right," the reporter said.

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

Some earthquakes of this magnitude can prove deadly, although much depends on where the quake strikes and at what depth.

A 6.5-magnitude quake struck north-eastern Yilan in October with minimal damage, in part because it was at a depth of 67km.

Hualien, a scenic tourist hot spot, was struck by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake in 2018 that killed 17 people and injured nearly 300.

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