TAIPEI: A 7.5-magnitude earthquake hit Taiwan’s east on Wednesday (Apr 3), in what has been described as the strongest in a quarter of a century.

“The earthquake is close to land and it’s shallow. It’s felt all over Taiwan and offshore islands … it’s the strongest in 25 years since the (1999) earthquake,” director of Taipei’s Seismology Centre Wu Chien-fu told reporters, referring to a September 1999 quake with 7.6-magnitude that killed 2,400 people.

The quake, which struck shortly before 8am local time (8am Singapore), prompted tsunami warnings in Japan and the Philippines.

Tsunami waves as high as 3m were expected immediately for remote Japanese islands near Taiwan, including Miyakojima island, Japan’s Meteorological Agency (JMA) said the agency said.

“Evacuate!” said a banner on national broadcaster NHK.

“Tsunami is coming. Please evacuate immediately,” an anchor on NHK said. “Do not stop. Do not go back.”

A 30cm tsunami reached Yonaguni Island at 9.18am Japan, JMA said.

The Philippines warned of “high tsunami waves” and called for the evacuation of coastal areas.

“The people in the coastal areas of the following provinces are strongly advised to immediately evacuate to higher grounds or move farther inland,” the state seismology institute said in an advisory for 23 provinces where it said “high tsunami waves” were expected to hit.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake’s epicentre was 18km south of Taiwan’s Hualien City at a depth of 34.8km.

The strong quake knocked out power in several parts of the city, according to a Reuters witness.

“The earthquake may trigger a tsunami that will affect Taiwan. A tsunami warning is issued to remind people in coastal areas to be vigilant,” said an emergency message issued by authorities.

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