No damage or injuries reported after earthquakes in Hualien

Commuters ride Taipei Metro on Feb. 15, 2020. (CNA)
Commuters ride Taipei Metro on Feb. 15, 2020. (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — The magnitude-5.5 and 5.1 temblors that hit Hualien, eastern Taiwan on Saturday evening were a “normal release” of energy, according to the Central Weather Bureau (CWB).

Chen Kuo-chang (陳國昌), acting director of the Central Weather Bureau’s Seismology Center, told reporters that such a normal release of energy is a positive development for eastern Taiwan, which is where the descending Philippine Sea Plate goes under the Eurasian Plate, resulting in a broken tectonic area that causes earthquakes.

Chen said multiple tremblors measuring magnitude 3 to 4 have hit eastern Taiwan recently at a time when the two plates are colliding, and the center had expected more quakes in the area based on historical records.

The quakes struck on the coast of Hualien at 7 p.m. and 7:05 p.m. Saturday.

The first one was centered about 19.2 kilometers southwest of Hualien County Hall and struck at a depth of 10.5 km. Its intensity, which gauges the actual effect of a quake, was highest in the northern half of Hualien County, measuring 4 on Taiwan’s 10-level intensity scale.

The second quake’s epicenter was nearly identical to that of the earlier one, located about 18.1 kilometers southwest of Hualien County Hall, at a depth of 8.4 km, the CWB said.

The quake’s intensity was also highest in Hualien County, where it measured 4, while Yilan County registered an intensity of 3, the CWB added.

According to Chen, the second tremblor was an aftershock from the first one.

No damage or injuries were immediately reported. State-owned power supplier Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) said all reactors at its nuclear plants and power generators at coal fired and hydropower plants around the island are operating within normal parameters.

Taipower said the company’s power supply system remained undisrupted with no blackouts reported due to the quakes.

In addition, Hsinchu Science Park, which houses major electronics manufacturers, said the earthquakes did not disrupt operations.

Among the companies based in the park, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world’s largest contract chipmaker and its smaller rival United Microelectronics Corp., said operations remain normal.