A strong earthquake killed one person and injured at least 86 others in Taiwan on Wednesday as violent shock waves damaged buildings and triggered a blaze, emergency officials said.
The US Geological Survey measured the quake at magnitude 6.0 and said it struck at 10.03am, 48 kilometres east of Nantou county in central Taiwan at a depth of 20.7 kilometres.
Taiwan’s central weather bureau put the magnitude at 6.1, saying it was the largest quake this year and was felt across the island. Five aftershocks measured from 3.7-4.3 in magnitude occurred in two hours after the main tremor, it said.
The national fire agency said a 72-year-old woman at a temple in Nantou was struck by a wall that crumbled during the quake and died on the spot.
Eighty-six others were slightly injured in the same county and the nearby Changhua and Taichung counties.
The quake also triggered a fire in a house in Nantou that injured one person and had since been extinguished, it said.
The agency received five reports of people trapped in lifts during the quake but they had all found their way to safety.
Cable news channel SET TV showed footage of one woman in Nantou being carried to an ambulance after she was hit in the head by fragments of a ceiling that came loose during the quake.
“I was scared and nervous as the quake reminded me of the deadly September 21 earthquake in 1999, and luckily this one stopped quickly,” said Chen Shao-sheng, who works for private Show Chwan hospital in Nantou.
Nantou county was the epicentre of a 7.6-magnitude quake in September 21, 1999 that killed around 2,400 people in the deadliest natural disaster in the island’s recent history.
Taiwan’s high speed rail company had suspended all trains for more than four hours for safety checks after the quake while the metro system in the capital Taipei was also temporarily suspended.
Many buildings in Taipei swayed while television footage showed some school children in Nantou fleeing their classrooms during the quake as well as supermarket staff cleaned up contents fell from sales racks.
Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is regularly hit by earthquakes.
Video: Taiwanese TV news coverage of the March 27 earthquake