6.4 Earthquake Strikes Near One of Taiwan’s Top Travel Destinations

Feb 6, 2018

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A 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck about 13 miles off Hualien County on the east coast of Taiwan at 11:50 pm on Tuesday, February 6. Hualien City continues to experience a number of strong aftershocks, according to the United States Geological Survey. No tsunami warnings have been issued at this time. Thus far, two deaths have been reported, and more than 140 people have been injured by the earthquake and subsequent damage.

Light shaking from the initial earthquake was felt as far north as the capital, Taipei City, about 74 miles northwest of Hualien.

Hualien, Taiwan’s largest county by land size, is a popular tourist destination with visitors seeking nature-based adventure.

The 270-room Marshal Hotel in Hualien collapsed soon after the initial quake, which was followed by severe aftershocks which each exceeded 5.0 magnitude. The first three floors of the hotel were completely flattened by the collapse. Cellphone video from locals show the pillars of the hotel collapsing to the ground, with initial reports of more than 30 people trapped inside.

Another hotel known as the Beautiful Life Hotel is also tilting precariously, according to the Hualien Fire Agency, while at least five other buildings in the area have suffered structural damage. Nearly 2,000 homes in the region have lost power, and two bridges in Hualien City have been closed off after damage from multiple landslides.

Travel to most regions of Taiwan should still be safe, as Taoyuan International Airport (TPE), Taiwan’s primary international airport, lies more than 70 miles northwest from the earthquake epicenter.

Travelers headed to Hualien or the east coast of Taiwan should take precautions and check local news sources before entering the region, traveling by train, or hiking on mountain trails until authorities declare them safe.

Taiwan experiences a significant amount of seismic activity each year due to its position in the Pacific Ring of Fire, at the western edge of the Philippine Sea Plate. According to Earthquake Track, the island has experienced 57 earthquakes over the past year, with 15 of those occuring within the past 7 days. Tuesday night’s 6.4-magnitude earthquake was the strongest within the past year.

The region struck by the quake offers great hiking trails through the beautiful Taroko Gorge, as well as hot springs and mountaineering at Hehuanshan.

Featured photo by PAUL YANG/AFP/Getty Images

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