Powerful earthquake hits Southeast Taiwan, tsunami warning issued

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TAIPEI (Reuters) – An earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale hit the sparsely populated southeastern part of Taiwan on Sunday, the island’s weather bureau said.

The weather bureau said the epicenter was in Taitung province and followed a 6.4 on the Richter scale earthquake in the same area on Saturday evening, with no casualties.

The US Geological Survey measured the earthquake at a magnitude of 7.2 and at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles).

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Taiwanese media said a low-rise supermarket collapsed and rescue work had begun to free those inside.

The Taiwan Railways Administration said three wagons came off the rails at Dongli station in eastern Taiwan after part of the platform roof collapsed and about 20 passengers on board were evacuated.

The US Tsunami Warning Center issued a warning in Taiwan after the quake. It said dangerous tsunami waves were possible within 300 km (190 miles) of the epicenter along Taiwan’s coasts.

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The Japanese weather agency warned of tsunami waves of 1 meter in part of Okinawa prefecture after the earthquake.

The quake was felt throughout Taiwan, the weather bureau said. In the capital Taipei, buildings briefly shook.

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

Taiwan is located near the intersection of two tectonic plates and is prone to earthquakes.

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An earthquake in southern Taiwan in 2016 killed more than 100 people, while a 7.3-magnitude earthquake killed more than 2,000 in 1999.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Yimou Lee; Additional reporting by Martin Quin Pollard, Sam Nussey and Anirudh Saligrama; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

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