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Southern Taiwan jolted by 6.4-magnitude quake

This map shows where the 6.4 quake struck Taiwan on Thursday morning.
This map shows where the 6.4 quake struck Taiwan on Thursday morning.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 6.4 quake rocks southern Taiwan at about 0120 GMT
  • Aftershocks follow; no immediate reports of deaths
  • Quake hits northwest of Taitung, on the southeast coast
  • Residents in southern Taiwan report blackouts; train services disrupted
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(CNN) -- A 6.4-magnitude earthquake rocked southern Taiwan on Thursday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. There were no immediate reports of deaths or serious injuries.

Taiwan's interior ministry reported 11 minor injuries.

The quake struck at about 8:20 a.m. (7:20 p.m. Wednesday ET) in a mountainous region about 25 miles northwest of Taitung, on the southeast coast, and 40 miles east of Tainan and Kaohsiung on the southwest coast.

Were you there? Did you feel it?

The region, which includes Taiwan's Maolin National Scenic Area, is recovering from a direct hit by Typhoon Morakot that killed hundreds in August. The typhoon dumped more than two feet of rain, causing serious mudslides in the south, including one that buried the village of Shiao Lin under 50 feet of mud.

Shuo Hong, an orthopedic surgeon in Taipei, about 155 miles away from the epicenter, felt the earthquake during a meeting at a hospital. "We were debating whether or not to run for shelter," he said, "but the hospital is safe. It is built to resist a 7.0-magnitude earthquake.

"It was shaking for about 20-30 seconds, shaking more than what we expected," Hong said.

Thursday's quake was followed by more than a dozen aftershocks, the largest reaching 4.8. The initial 6.4 quake rumbled to the surface from 14 miles deep.

The Taiwan Ministry of Interior and the National Fire Agency said electricity was cut off in parts of Kaohsiung county, Jia Yi city and Jia Yi county. Taiwan's official news agency reported that a fire broke out in Jia Yi city.

Video: Quake rattles Taiwan

Of the minor injuries reported, the interior ministry said that nine were in Kaohsiung county and two were in Jia Yi county.

Residents in southern Taiwan reported cracks in some buildings and major bridges. Train service was also disrupted in some areas, Taiwanese media reported.

Two small hotels near the epicenter that were contacted by CNN reported no damage, though the buildings shook for a few seconds during the quake.

Albert Yu, communications manager of the humanitarian organization World Vision, told CNN he was about halfway through a 90-minute trip via high-speed train from Taipei to Tainan when the quake struck. Passengers did not feel the quake, he said, but operators stopped the train and announced what had happened. More than an hour later, the train had not resumed service.

"The operator is examining the train and the tracks," he said, adding that there was concern about the stability of the area, particularly after the typhoon. "Inside the train, people are calm and are waiting it out -- opening laptops, starting to work and chatting with people around them."

Yu said World Vision "has already been on high alert responding to the quakes in Haiti and Chile, so we're closely monitoring reports in the earthquake in southern Taiwan."

Residents in the capital Taipei, 155 miles to the north, also felt the shaking.

Earthquakes are not uncommon in the 13,892-square-mile island -- about the size of the U.S. states of Maryland and Delaware combined -- which sits across the juncture of the Eurasian and Philippine tectonic plates.

A 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck the same general region in December. The island took a double hit on December 26, 2006, when earthquakes of 7.1 and 6.9 magnitude hit eight minutes apart.

The largest recorded quake to strike Taiwan was an 8.0-magnitude quake in 1920, but the worst earthquake disaster stemmed from a 7.1-magnitude quake in 1935 that killed more than 3,200 people -- followed by a 6.5-magnitude quake that killed more than 2,700 people three months later.

More recently, a 7.6 magnitude-earthquake killed more than 2,400 people in 1999.

CNN's Christine Theodorou and Journalist Andrew Lee contributed to this report

 
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