03/04/2010, 00.00
TAIWAN
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6.4 magnitude earthquake strikes southern Taiwan

The quake was felt in Taipei, hundreds of kilometres away. A few minor injuries and damage to buildings, so far no victims. But the president is closely following relief efforts. Today’s earthquake follows the devastating earthquakes that hit Chile and Haiti in January.

Taipei (AsiaNews / Agencies) - An earthquake of magnitude 6.4 struck the island of Taiwan today. The provisional toll is eight injured by falling debris from buildings, but there were no casualties. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported that the epicentre is located about 70 miles from Kaohsiung, the second largest city in the south, in a mountainous and sparsely inhabited region. The quake was felt in the capital, Taipei, hundreds of kilometres away.

The quake caused panic among the inhabitants, who fled from shaking buildings. In many areas of the island - already hit last August by a powerful typhoon, which caused 700 deaths – there is no electricity and high speed trains link are down  

The state TV reports that the town of Nantou, in the centre of the island, electricity and water is lacking, a group of 10 people are trapped inside an elevator. In the afternoon the President Ma Ying-jeou is due to travel to Tainan to personally verify relief efforts. He does not want a repetition of mistakes and delays that exacerbated the death toll from the typhoon and generated a decrease of consensus among citizens.

Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is regularly hit by earthquakes. In September 1999, a 7.6-magnitude quake killed about 2,400 people.  In December 2006 an earthquake measuring 6.7 has caused the interruption of telephone communications and Internet across Asia.  

The quake registered today in Taiwan comes a few days following the devastating earthquake that hit Chile on 27 February this year - at least 700 dead - and Haiti in January with a toll that exceeded 300 thousand victims.

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