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Strong 6.1-magnitude quake hits Taiwan

Buildings shake, small power cuts in capital Taipei

By Reuters - Apr 18,2019 - Last updated at Apr 18,2019

A member of security from the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit closes the gate of a station in New Taipei City as a precaution after a earthquake hit at midday, on Thursday (AFP photo)

TAIPEI — A 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan's coastal city of Hualien on Thursday, shaking buildings and temporarily halting subway services in the capital Taipei, but there were no immediate reports of serious damage or casualties.

Television footage showed school children being evacuated from buildings after the largest quake to hit the heavily industrialised island this year, a weather bureau official said.

While small-scale power cuts were reported in some districts in Taipei, the Central News Agency said, oil refinery plants and services were operating as normal, according to the government.

It set up a disaster reaction centre after the quake which hit at a depth of 18km, according to the weather bureau. 

President Tsai Ing-wen said high-speed rail service in northern Taiwan, between Taipei and the neighbouring city of Taoyuan, had been temporarily suspended. 

On her official Facebook page, Tsai said she asked officials "to gather information from everywhere to check whether there's any damage, and if so, to react as soon as possible".

The United States Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 6.4, adding that it struck at a depth of 15km from Hualien.

Taiwan, a self-ruled island that China considers its own, lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is prone to earthquakes.

More than 100 people were killed in an earthquake in the island's south in 2016, and a quake of 7.6 magnitude killed more than 2,000 people in 1999.

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