Taiwan earthquake: At least 9 killed, hundreds injured

Authorities in Taiwan say Wednesday's strong earthquake killed at least nine people and injured over 900.

Taiwanese meteorological officials said the magnitude 7.2 quake happened around 8 a.m. Wednesday off the eastern coast. It triggered an 80-centimeter tsunami that struck Yilan County. The worst damage was seen in Hualien County, where homes and business buckled from their foundations or simply gave way.

Intense seismic activity has followed the initial quake.

Power, water and gas have been disrupted in many areas.

Communities beyond Hualien County were also rattled, including damage reported in New Taipei City.

Local media say landslides have cut off some roads and railways running in mountainous areas.

Wednesday morning was not Taiwan's first experience with devastating seismic activity. A magnitude 7.7 quake in 1999 caused many buildings to crumble, killing over 2,400 people.

Seismic expert Wada Akira of Tokyo Institute of Technology told NHK that Taiwan has been working to prevent a similar catastrophe from happening again.

He said Taiwan has reinforced buildings against earthquakes, but pointed out that old buildings were constructed based on the anti-quake standards of their time. He said older and smaller buildings that were not renovated, perhaps due to lack of funds, were at risk of quake damage.

Taiwan has received offers of help from around the world, including Japan. Prime Minister Kishida Fumio says his country is ready to provide necessary support.

He cited Taiwan's willingness to lend a hand during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan, as well as the recent disaster in the Noto Peninsula.

Beijing has also said it's willing to help those affected by Wednesday's quake.