Strong earthquake hits southern Taiwan, building collapses

This photo provided by Hualien County fire department show a collapsed residential building following earthquake in Yuli township in Hualien County, eastern Taiwan, on Sunday.

TAIPEI (Reuters) — A 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit the sparsely populated southeastern part of Taiwan on Sunday, the island’s weather bureau said, derailing train carriages and causing a convenience store to collapse.

The weather bureau said the epicenter was in Taitung county, and followed a 6.4 magnitude temblor on Saturday evening in the same area, which caused no casualties.

The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake at a magnitude 7.2 and at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles).

The county government in Hualien, which sits next to Taitung, said two people were trapped in a building housing a convenience store that collapsed in Yuli, while rescue efforts were underway for three people who fell off a damaged bridge.

The Taiwan Railways Administration said three carriages came off the rails at Dongli station in eastern Taiwan after part of the platform canopy collapsed, and the roughly 20 passengers aboard had been evacuated and were uninjured.

The U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a warning for Taiwan after the tremor but later rescinded the alert. Japan’s weather agency also lifted an earlier tsunami warning for part of Okinawa prefecture.

The quake could be felt across Taiwan, the weather bureau said. Buildings shook briefly in the capital Taipei.

Science parks in the southern cities of Tainan and Kaohsiung, home to major semiconductor factories, said there was no impact on operations.

Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is prone to earthquakes.

More than 100 people were killed in a quake in southern Taiwan in 2016, while a 7.3 magnitude quake killed more than 2,000 people in 1999.