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Taiwan hit by strongest earthquake in 25 years

A powerful earthquake has rocked Taiwan, damaging buildings and creating a tsunami that washed ashore on southern Japanese islands.

A five-story building in lightly populated Hualien appeared heavily damaged, collapsing its first floor and leaving the rest leaning at a 45-degree angle.

Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring agency said Wednesday morning’s earthquake was magnitude 7.2 on the Richter scale, while the US Geological Survey put it at 7.4.

Train service was suspended across the island of 23 million people, and in the capital, Taipei, tiles fell from older buildings and within some newer office complexes.

Schools evacuated their students, equipped with protective head coverings including motorcycle helmets, to sports fields, equipping them with protective yellow head coverings.

The head of Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring bureau, Wu Chien-fu, said effects were detected as far away as Kinmen, a Taiwanese-controlled island off the coast of China.

The quake is believed to be the biggest in Taiwan since one in 1999 caused 2,400 deaths, injuring around 100,000 and destroying thousands of buildings..

The Japan Meteorological Agency forecast a tsunami of up to three metres for the southern Japanese island group of Okinawa.

A 30-centimetre wave was detected on the coast of Yonaguni island about 15 minutes after the quake struck.

Japan’s Self Defence Force has sent planes into the area to gather information about the tsunami impact around the Okinawa region and is also preparing shelters for evacuees if necessary.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said there was no tsunami threat to Hawaii or Guam.

With agencies

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