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The magnitude-7.4 quake was followed by more than 200 aftershocks. Dozens of people were trapped. Two buildings in the city of Hualien teetered perilously.


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The magnitude-7.4 quake was followed by more than 200 aftershocks.CreditCredit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

The first quake was alarming enough — a rumble more powerful than anything felt in Taiwan for a quarter-century, lasting for more than a minute on Wednesday morning, knocking belongings and even whole buildings askew. It was so strong it set off tsunami warnings in Japan, China and the Philippines.

But then, even in a fault-riddled place with long and hard experience with earthquakes, the jolt of aftershock after aftershock was startling, continuing every few minutes throughout the day.

The magnitude-7.4 quake killed nine and injured at least 1,038 others, stretching an expert quake response system that has served as a model in other places. In Hualien County, close to the epicenter, 93 people were stranded as of Thursday morning, including dozens of cement factory workers in two rock quarries, according to officials. Forty flights were canceled or delayed. Around 14,000 households were without water, and 1,000 households were without power.

By late Wednesday evening, 201 aftershocks had been reported, many over magnitude 5. With rain expected in the coming days, authorities warned of possible landslides.

Shake intensity

“I was sleeping at home when the shaking started, and it kept shaking and shaking for so long,” said Chen Hsing-yun, a 26-year-old resident of Hualien who was with her 2-year-old child and her parents in a third-story apartment when the quake struck. “After the main earthquake stopped I went downstairs with my baby — but then the tremors kept coming all day.”

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