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A powerful earthquake has rocked the island of Taiwan


Just in the last couple of hours, a powerful earthquake has rocked the island of Taiwan. It has triggered tsunami warnings in neighboring countries, including Japan and the Philippines. Numerous aftershocks have hit just in the last hour or so. So far, we do not know about casualties. NPR's Emily Feng is in Taiwan. She was at home during the earthquake. She joins us now live. Hey there, Emily. And are you OK?

EMILY FENG, BYLINE: I am. Thank you for asking. But my porcelain is probably not OK.

KELLY: Yeah.

FENG: My recording studio certainly isn't. But I am...

KELLY: What happened?

FENG: ...About 120 miles away from the epicenter, so it was not as bad as the east coast, which is where the earthquake hit. The epicenter was near a city called Hualien. And that sits right on a fault line, so earthquakes there are super common. But this was a really big one. It was 7.4 on the Richter scale, per the U.S. Geological Survey. And this is the biggest earthquake to hit Taiwan in about a quarter of a century.

KELLY: And you were there. And what happened - just suddenly the windows started breaking or what?

FENG: I was actually on a call, and the entire room started shaking. I had just made myself a pot of coffee. Everything on the table fell to the floor and shattered. I had some shelves that were not very well secured in my studio, so they fell over and buried most of my equipment. But I just went to the center of the room, and I'm actually sitting outside right now because there were aftershocks just a couple minutes ago.

KELLY: Yeah. Obviously, this is all just unfolding now, but are you hearing any reports about what the damage - what the scale of damage may be?

FENG: I've been texting friends on the east coast where the epicenter was. There are videos so far they're sending me of roads damaged. The train service has stopped to the east coast. The power grid has said they've shut down eight power plants out of safety, but there is still electricity. And here's a video a friend sent me of a landslide on a road near the epicenter.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Non-English language spoken).

FENG: So you just - you hear people getting out of their cars, and there's this huge rockslide that's covered the road and stopped traffic. Much of Taiwan is very mountainous, so as the day goes on, I fully expect there's going to be way more reports about damaged train lines and roads. And I'm also getting videos from friends showing collapsed and off-kilter houses there.

KELLY: Yeah. How common are earthquakes in Taiwan?

FENG: Well, I mentioned Taiwan - and much like nearby Japan, actually - sees earthquakes on a monthly basis. They're very common because we're right on a fault line, and buildings are now built to be resistant to shakes, and especially along the east coast. But this one is very big. And the last deadly earthquake was just a year and a half ago, but this is on a different scale. It's the biggest since 1999, when a 7.3 quake killed 2,000 people. That being said, Taiwan is way more prepared now, but it's also just way more built up. It's become a global hub for semiconductor production, which is critical to our technologies. And actually the biggest semiconductor maker, TSMC, said it has stopped production lines and evacuated workers because of this. So I expect to see a hit in trade as well because of this quake.

KELLY: That is NPR's Emily Feng reporting live from Taiwan. She is outside because, as you just heard, aftershocks are continuing after a major earthquake there just in the last couple of hours. Emily, take care.

FENG: Thank you, Mary Louise.

KELLY: And you can follow Emily's reporting on this earthquake on tomorrow's Morning Edition. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Mary Louise Kelly is a co-host of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine.
Emily Feng is NPR's Beijing correspondent.

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