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Photos: Taiwan hit by a strong 7.4 magnitude earthquake

Taiwan was hit by the largest earthquake in 25 years early Wednesday morning, collapsing buildings and triggering landslides, killing several people and leaving dozens missing.

Relief efforts are underway after a powerful 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan around 8 a.m. local time Wednesday (0100 GMT, 8 p.m. EST Tuesday). Local media report that the death toll has risen to nine people and that the figure could rise further with attempts to find 77 people missing.

Among the missing, according to reports, is a group of 50 travelers en route to a rural hotel in a national park. The group was traveling in four minibuses and apparently had no news. Taiwan’s President-elect Lai Ching-te told reporters that the current priority was the search for survivors.

ANKARA, TURKIYE – APRIL 3: An infographic titled “Strong earthquake shakes Taiwan” created in Ankara, Turkiye on April 3, 2024. (Photo by Yasin Demirci/Anadolu via Getty Images)

A vehicle in a collapsed road following an earthquake in New Taipei City, Taiwan, Wednesday, April 3, 2024. Taiwan was hit by the most powerful earthquake in a quarter of a century, the tremors caused by the tremor leveled dozens of buildings on the eastern side of the island, injuring more than 50 people and disrupting some potato chip production lines. Photographer: An Rong Xu/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Houses and road damaged following an earthquake in New Taipei City, Taiwan, Wednesday, April 3, 2024. Photographer: An Rong Xu/Bloomberg via Getty Images

HUALIEN, TAIWAN – APRIL 3: The Air Force’s 6th Joint Wing and 10th Airlift Group send three batches and three sorties of C-130 aircraft to conduct disaster relief and transport rescuers as members of a search and rescue team prepare after a strong earthquake, measuring 7.4 magnitude, struck this morning, causing disaster in Taiwan’s Hualien region April 3, 2024. Taiwan’s strongest earthquake in a quarter-century shook the island during the morning rush Wednesday, damaging buildings and creating a tsunami that washed ashore on the southern islands from Japan. (Photo by Taiwan Ministry of National Defense / Handout/Anadolu via Getty Images)

HUALIEN, TAIWAN – APRIL 3: The National Army’s Second Combat Zone sent liaison officers and intelligence officers to the county government after a strong earthquake, measuring 7.4 magnitude, occurred this morning (Photo from Army Command Headquarters (MND)/Anadolu via Getty Images)

TAIPEI, TAIWAN – APRIL 3: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and Executive Director Chen Jianren hold a press conference as they visit the Central Disaster Response Center (Photo by Taiwan Presidential Office/Anadolu via Getty Images)

The epicenter of the earthquake would be located under the small town of Hualien, on the east coast of the Pacific. The city of 100,000 is about 75 miles south of Taipei, the capital of the Republic of China, Taiwan. Despite the distance, some damage is evident in the capital, particularly in Taipei’s subway system.

In addition to damaged buildings, including an apparently steel-framed building that appeared to have almost toppled onto its side, those in the countryside also suffered from landslides. Taiwanese officials say five of those killed by the earthquake were struck by falling rocks and that three of them were hiking on a nature trail in Hualien province.

More than 800 people were reportedly injured. Tsunami warnings were issued but later withdrawn. The earthquake was considered the most powerful to hit Taiwan since 1999, which killed 2,411 people and caused widespread power outages. The high death toll was partly blamed on the poor quality of building construction, with a 2000 report claiming that two-thirds of deaths took place in buildings that had not been approved by an engineer. The better quality of buildings since the traumatic earthquake of 1999 may partly explain the relatively low number of deaths today due to an earthquake of comparable power.

As noted by the British BBC, China quickly offered aid to Taiwan, but Taiwan refused aid suggested by Beijing, which claims all of Taiwan as its own territory and is frequently cited as a risk of Russian-Ukrainian type invasion.

HUALIEN, TAIWAN – APRIL 3: Members of a search and rescue team prepare to enter a leaning building (Photo by National Fire Agency/Anadolu via Getty Images)

A Taipei Metro elevated track damaged following an earthquake in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, April 3, 2024. Photographer: An Rong Xu/Bloomberg via Getty Images

TAICHUNG, TAIWAN – APRIL 3: A small passenger vehicle is badly damaged and has a broken windshield after being hit by falling rocks on Zhonghengbian Road. At least four people have been killed and hundreds injured after a 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck off Taiwan’s east coast. on the Richter scale, in Taichung, Taiwan, April 3, 2024. (Photo by Guguan Public Works Section/Anadolu via Getty Images)

TAICHUNG, TAIWAN – APRIL 3: Fengyuan Passenger Transport is nearly hit by falling rocks on Zhonghengbian Road as at least four people were killed and hundreds injured after a 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck struck off the east coast of Taiwan on the Richter scale, at Taichung. Taiwan on April 3, 2024. Bus passengers are still waiting for help. (Photo by Guguan Public Works Section/Anadolu via Getty Images)

HUALIEN, TAIWAN – APRIL 3: The Uranus Building on Xuanyuan Road is tilted sharply (Photo by Hualien County Fire Department/Anadolu via Getty Images)

HUALIEN, TAIWAN – APRIL 3: Firefighters search inside a building for a rescue operation (Photo by Hualien County Fire Department/Anadolu via Getty Images)

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