Magnitude 6.3 quake jolts a vigilant Taiwan, kills two

Located along the so-called ring of fire, Taiwan has prepared for shakes like today's with earthquake construction codes.

Taiwan’s strongest earthquake so far this year killed two and injured 80 on Sunday, jolting an island that is already hyper-aware of the potential for temblors given its position on the Pacific Rim's ring of fire.

The magnitude 6.3 quake hit at a relatively shallow 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) underground in a rural mountain area, setting off rock slides that killed both victims and left others hurt. A collapsed road injured one person. Separately, local news reports showed one fractured road blocked by a rock slide.

In a scenic area with a landmark suspension bridge known called "Ladder to Heaven,” 300 tourists were stranded for more than three hours, Taiwan’s official Central News Agency reported.

Sunday’s epicenter in central Taiwan’s Nantou county approximates that of an infamous quake that struck on Sept. 21, 1999. About 2,400 people died from that quake, and the number “921” remains a household term among Taiwanese.

Taiwan gets minor quakes almost every day, usually in rugged, rural Nantou county or off the Pacific Ocean east coast. As earthquake construction codes have prepared much of the island, Taiwan’s quakes seldom kill or injure people. The worst quake on record occurred in 1935, killing about 3,200 people.

Many Taiwanese fear a repeat and following any natural disaster expect fast reactions from the government that some found too slow after a deadly typhoon in 2009.

On Sunday, disaster authorities warned central officials to ensure that roads and bridges in the quake zone were sound, likewise that students could safely attend classes on Monday.

Taiwan might not be finished shaking, the authorities said. One person is also still reported missing. 

“The June 2 quake could still generate aftershocks,” the Central Disaster Response Center said in a statement. “Offices in charge should stay on alert and do everything possible to respond.”

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