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Magnitude-5.9 quake centered in East Taiwan rattles nation

TAIPEI--A magnitude-5.9 earthquake centered in Eastern Taiwan rattled the entire island Wednesday morning, with shaking felt in residences and offices as far away as the capital Taipei in the north.

Three elementary schoolchildren in the southern city of Tainan sustained minor injuries after being struck by light steel frames that fell from the ceiling in a school auditorium, including one who received a small laceration to the head but has been released from the hospital after receiving stitches.

No other injuries have yet been reported.

The quake occurred at 8:21 a.m. in Fenglin Township, Hualien County, at a depth of 18 kilometers, according to the Central Weather Bureau.

Kuo Kai-wen, director of the Central Weather Bureau's Seismological Center, said the quake released energy roughly equivalent to one third of that let off by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Rocking lasted longest in Hualien City, where the quake was felt for 48 seconds, while Taipei shook only for 15 seconds, Kuo said.

Xilin, a village in the county's Wanrong Township, bore the brunt of the shock with intensity measuring in at 6 on Taiwan's 7-point scale.

Taipei felt an intensity of 2, while other parts of the country recorded levels up to 5.

As of 4:30 p.m., three aftershocks had been recorded, measuring 3.5, 3.1 and 3.7 on the Richter scale respectively.

It was the largest earthquake in Taiwan so far this year and the 11th earthquake of magnitude 5 or above since January, according to the weather bureau.

The Seismological Center cautioned travelers and residents in mountainous areas as the earthquake combined with recent heavy rainfall increases the likelihood of landslides.

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Kuo Kai-wen (郭鎧紋), director of the Central Weather Bureau's Seismological Center, speaks to local reporters yesterday. A magnitude-5.9 earthquake centered in Eastern Taiwan rattled the entire island yesterday morning. Kuo said the quake released energy roughly equivalent to one third of that from the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. (CNA)

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