Taiwan was struck by its most powerful earthquake in a quarter-century, causing chaos in communities and triggering a massive response effort.

The magnitude was 7.2, according to Taiwan’s agency, and 7.4, according to the US Geological Survey. At least nine people have been confirmed dead, and over 800 others injured as collapsing buildings, power outages, and landslides gripped affected areas. Dozens remain trapped, including individuals caught in a coal mine and tourists stranded in Taroko National Park.

The earthquake’s impact extended beyond human casualties, disrupting critical infrastructure and economic activities. Train lines were severed, schools shuttered, and tens of thousands of homes were left without power. Taiwan’s semiconductor giant, TSMC, was forced to evacuate production lines.

The seismic shockwaves rippled across borders, triggering initial tsunami warnings in southern Japan and the Philippines. Though the warnings were eventually lifted, the tremors evoked haunting memories of past catastrophes, including Japan’s 2011 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami. The solidarity of neighbouring nations was evident as China’s Taiwan Affairs Office expressed concern and offered assistance in the wake of the disaster.

Initial tsunami warnings in Japan sparked panic as forecasts suggested waves up to three meters high in Okinawa prefecture. While no damage was reported, officials urged continued evacuation until the advisory was lifted, prompting some residents to seek refuge in nearby US military bases while others watched from higher ground. Meanwhile, the Philippines’ seismology agency issued and later lifted tsunami warnings for coastal areas.

The earthquake served as a reminder of recent disasters, including the magnitude-7.6 quake and tsunami in Japan’s Noto peninsula just three months prior and the catastrophic 2011 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami.