The biggest earthquake to rock Taiwan since the 921 earthquake of September 1999, struck 70 kilometers out to sea north east of Keelung City today, sparing the island from any significant damage.
The 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck at 1.23pm, registering a magnitude of 4 in Ilan and Hualian Counties on the east coast, and a 3 in parts of Taipei.
Television news showed buildings shaking as people recorded the event on cellphones. Some stores had products fall from shelves.
Train services in the north-eastern counties of Ilan and Hualian were affected, as earthquakes greater than a magnitude of 4 trigger a safety procedure where drivers are required to limit trains to a maximum speed of 60 kph until safety crews have checked the tracks for damage. An estimated 3000 travelers experienced delays as a result.
On September 21, 1999, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake centered in Nantou County resulted in more than 2000 deaths, over 11 000 injured, and extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure.
Earlier this year, on February 6, a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck southern Taiwan, resulting in 116 fatalities, making it the deadliest earthquake to strike the island since 1999.