Magnitude 6.7 earthquake the biggest to strike Taiwan this year

A magnitude 6.7 earthquake with an epicenter close to the coast of northeastern Taiwan was felt all over the island, and constitutes the biggest to hit Taiwan this year, according to data from the Central Weather Bureau (CWB).

[Note: Taiwan uses moment magnitude scale: international sources using Richter scale are reporting magnitude 6.1]

The earthquake, with an epicenter 27.2 kilometers east of Yilan County Hall, 24.74 degrees north latitude and 122.03 degrees east longitude, at a depth of 76.8 kilometers struck at 9:19 pm.

The quake was felt as a level 4 in Taipei City, New Taipei City, Yilan County, Hualien County, Taoyuan City, Hsinchu County, Nantou County, Taichung City, Miaoli County, Yunlin County, and Chiayi County.

While no casualties, or major damage was reported, a power outage in Nangang District was blamed on the quake after a high voltage cable broke, and stock fell off shelves in some department stores and supermarkets.

supermarket workers clean up after earthquake
Wine bottles fell off a shelf at the Carrefour supermarket in Hsintien District, New Taipei City.

In Hsinchu County, six cars parked next to an abandoned cinema were damaged by steel frames and bricks that collapsed from the ruined building.

firefighters at the scene of minor earthquake damage in Hsinchu County, Taiwan, December 10, 2020.
Cars damaged by collapsed steel advertising frames.

Former director of the CWB Earthquake Observation and Reporting Center, Guo Kai-wen (郭鎧紋), said that the power released by the earthquake was the equivalent of 5.6 atomic bombs, according to a report in United Daily News. The depth of the earthquake indicated that the quake was the result of the Philippine sea plate subducting beneath the Eurasian plate. The depth also explains why the quake was felt so far away, Guo said.

At magnitude 6.7, the earthquake is the biggest so far this year, after a 6.1 magnitude quake on June 24, and a magnitude 6.2 quake on July 26. Earlier today, a 5.3 struck off the coast of Taitung County.

A magnitude 4.8 tremblor at 9:27 pm, 26 kilometers east of Yilan County Hall was the first aftershock of the 9:19 pm quake, and aftershocks of up to magnitude 4 are possible for the next week or so, according to the CWB.

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