A powerful earthquake struck Taiwan on Wednesday and resulted in at least seven fatalities, nearly 60 injuries, extensive building damage and regional tsunami warnings, prompting response efforts and interruptions in various industries.

At least seven people were killed and more than 700 injured on Wednesday by a powerful earthquake in Taiwan that damaged dozens of buildings and prompted tsunami warnings that extended to Japan and the Philippines before being lifted.

Officials said that the quake was the strongest to shake the island in decades, and warned of more tremors in the days ahead.

“The earthquake is close to land and it’s shallow. It’s felt all over Taiwan and offshore islands,” said Wu Chien-fu, director of Taipei’s Central Weather Administration’s Seismology Center.

Strict building regulations and disaster awareness appear to have staved off a major catastrophe for the island, which is regularly hit by earthquakes as it lies near the junction of two tectonic plates.

Wu said that the quake was the strongest since a 7.6-magnitude struck in September 1999, killing around 2,400 people in the deadliest natural disaster in the island’s history.

Wednesday’s magnitude-7.4 quake struck just before 8:00 AM local time (00:00 GMT), with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) putting the epicenter 18 kilometers (11 miles) south of Taiwan’s Hualien City, at a depth of 34.8 kilometers.

Three people among a group of seven on an early-morning hike through the hills that surround the city were crushed to death by boulders loosened by the earthquake, officials said.

Social media was awash with shared videos and images from around the country of buildings swaying as the quake struck.

Dramatic images were shown on local TV of multi-story structures in Hualien and elsewhere tilting after the quake ended, while a warehouse in New Taipei City crumbled.

The mayor there said that more than 50 survivors had been successfully plucked from the ruins of the structure.

President Tsai Ing-wen called for local and central government agencies to coordinate with each other, and said that the military would also be providing support.

“I wanted to run out, but I wasn’t dressed. That was so strong,” said Kelvin Hwang, a guest at a hotel in the capital, Taipei, who sought shelter in the lift lobby on the ninth floor.

The National Fire Agency confirmed the death toll, adding that nearly 60 people had been treated for quake-related injuries.

Regional Impact

In Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines, authorities initially issued a tsunami warning, but by around 10 AM (02:00 GMT), the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that the threat had “largely passed.”

In the capital, the metro briefly stopped running but resumed within an hour, while residents received warnings from their local borough chiefs to check for any gas leaks.

Across the Taiwan Strait, social media users in China’s eastern Fujian province, which borders Guangdong in the south, and elsewhere said that they also felt strong tremors.

Residents of Hong Kong also reported feeling the earthquake.

China, which claims self-ruled Taiwan as a renegade province, was “paying close attention” to the quake and “willing to provide disaster relief assistance,” state news agency Xinhua said.

Fabrication at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company – the world’s biggest chip maker – was briefly interrupted at some plants, a company official told AFP, while work at construction sites for new plants was halted for the day.

With AFP