Special Reports
Regional Location:

Preliminary Magnitude:

Greenwich Mean Date:
Greenwich Mean Time:
Focal Depth:


Ms 7.2 (NEIC), Mw 7.1 (NEIC),

37 km

Strong earthquake rocks Taiwan

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March 31, 2002

An earthquake measuring Ms 7.2 (NEIC) occurred at 06:52:50 UTC off the northeastern coast of Tawan. Reports indicate the quake shook the region hard, causing significant damage as far away as Taiwan, killing at least four people and injuring hundreds.

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According to the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) the earthquake struck at 2:52 p.m. on Sunday afternoon (local time), March 31, and was centered off the northeastern coast about 65 miles southeast of T'aipei and 50 miles northeast of Hua-lien in the Pacific Ocean about 12 miles west of Nan-ao. See maps.

The focal point was at 37 km beneath the surface and the NEIC fault plane solution suggested thrust motion (up and over) along an east-northeast trending plane. The quake occurred along the Ryukyu subduction zone, the tectonic boundary where the Philippines plate is being forced under the Asian plate.

The Central Weather Bureau reported a body wave (Mb) magnitude of 6.8 and said hundreds of aftershocks have followed, with strongest measuring M4.9 thus far.

The Japanese Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning for the Ryukyu Islands but later canceled the warning after only 20 centimeter (eight inches) wave was measured on Yonaguni, the closest Japanese island to Taiwan, and no perceptible wave occurred at Ishigaki, centered about 149 miles east of the epicenter.

Damage Reports

Preliminary reports indicate several buildings have collapsed and damage on the northern portion of the island is serious. Much of the preliminary damage news surrounds a construction site in T'aipei where a crane working on a high-rise building came crashing down, killing four and injuring dozens. See images page 1, images page 2.

There have been reports of scattered injuries elsewhere on the island and one resulted in a fatality, rasing the total from the quake to five.

There have been no reports from the coastal regions at this time.

Roads in mountainous regions were blocked by rockslides, but airport was not affected. Some damage has been reported from bridges.

An earthquake measuring M7.6 on September 21, 1999, killed 2,400 people and damaged over 50,000 buildings.

Additional information links

Mainstream media news reports:
Report update: 9:23:02 AM, Monday, April 1, 2002

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