Taiwan Earthquake 2024

AQA GCSE Geography > The Challenge of Natural Hazards > Taiwan Earthquake 2024

Taiwan Earthquake 2024


Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China (ROC), is an island nation in the western Pacific Ocean. It lies roughly 100 miles (160 km) off the coast of southeastern China (People’s Republic of China – PRC), at the junction of the East and South China Seas in the northwestern Pacific Ocean.

Taiwan is a high-income country. Its transition from a low-income to a high-income country began in the latter half of the 20th century through economic reforms, focussing on export-orientated industrialisation. The country invested heavily in education and technology, and by developing its manufacturing sector, Taiwan could produce high-value goods for export. Government policies supported innovation and entrepreneurship, leading to growth in the technology and service sectors.

What caused the 2024 Taiwan earthquake?

Taiwan experienced an earthquake of magnitude 7.4 18 km southwest of Hualien City to the east of the island at 8 a.m. local time on 2nd April 2024. The earthquake was Taiwan’s most powerful since the 1999 Jiji earthquake.

Taiwan is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, at a complex convergence (destructive) boundary between the Eurasian and Philippine plates. The Philippine plate is moving towards the Eurasian plate at around 8cm per/year, forming a zone of subduction towards the north of Taiwan.

The Eurasian plate is compressed where Taiwan lies, and a fault has formed to the east of the country, running from north to south. The fault is called the Longitudinal Valley Fault. It is a thrust fault, which means rather than crust sliding past each other, the crust is moving towards each other across which older rocks push above younger rocks. The slip occurred over a distance of 60km (a single point on a map cannot be used to show where the slip happened!).

What were the primary effects of the Taiwan earthquake?

The earthquake resulted in several primary effects:

  • Deaths and Injury: At least 17 people died, and over 1,100 were injured. One person died in the Uranus building in Hualien. Three hikers died in Taroko National Park, named after a landmark gorge just outside Hualien, considered one of Asia’s natural wonders.
  • Structural Damage: The earthquake damaged at least 870 buildings and 75 roads and tunnels. Of the 28 reported building collapses, 17 occurred in Hualien, while the other 11 occurred in Yilan, New Taipei, and Keelung.
  • Landslides: The earthquake triggered substantial landslides in mountainous areas, blocking roads and isolating communities, particularly along narrow, winding routes.
  • Tsunami: The earthquake generated a localised tsunami, impacting coastal areas with waves reaching 82 cm in Wushi Harbor and creating immediate flood risks.
  • The total estimated economic cost of the earthquake is $28 billion.
  • Around 200 people were made homeless.
  • Power outages affected 371,869 homes in Taiwan
  • The earthquake disrupted utilities

What were the secondary effects of the Taiwan earthquake?

The secondary effects included:

  • Due to large landslides, some 127 people became trapped in tunnels on narrow, winding mountainous roads along the rugged coastline.
  • Landslides trapped around 600 people in a remote village. Six hundred people were stranded in mountainous regions due to landslides.
  • Following the earthquake, over 200 aftershocks, dozens of which were at least magnitude 6.5 or more, hindered search and rescue efforts and caused further damage to housing and transport.

What were the immediate responses to the Taiwan earthquake?

  • Public Alerts and Communication: Utilisation of Taiwan’s advanced earthquake early warning system to alert the public seconds before the earthquake struck; continuous updates through media and government channels.
  • Emergency Evacuations and Rescue Operations: Rapid deployment of rescue teams to affected areas, including airlifting individuals trapped by landslides and building collapses. Within 24 hours of the earthquake, rescue teams worked to reach 77 people trapped in the Jinwen and Qingshui tunnels along the road in Hualien. Food supplies were airdropped to people trapped in remote, mountainous areas.
  • Building safety: Emergency workers started repairing dozens of damaged buildings and demolishing four deemed impossible to save.
  • Medical Assistance: Setting up temporary medical camps to treat the injured and dispatching ambulances to critical areas
  • Utility and Infrastructure Management: Immediate efforts to restore essential services like electricity and water supply in disrupted areas​.
  • Provision of Temporary Shelters: Establishment of emergency shelters in schools and community centres, equipped with necessities provided by local authorities and organizations like the Red Cross Society of Taiwan​​.1.
  • International Aid: Japan and Paraguay offered aid in the earthquake’s immediate aftermath.

What were the long-term responses to the Taiwan earthquake?

Despite the earthquake having occurred relatively recently, several long-term responses are being initiated, including:

  • Rebuilding and Reconstruction: Plans and actions initiated to repair and rebuild homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure damaged or destroyed by the earthquake​.
  • Economic Support: Financial assistance programs launched by the government to aid families and businesses affected by the earthquake, including loans and subsidies​.
  • Policy and Planning Improvements: Review and enhancement of building codes and urban planning regulations to increase resilience against future earthquakes​.
  • Psychological Support Services: Implementation of community mental health programs to help residents cope with the psychological aftermath of the disaster​.
  • Strengthening Disaster Preparedness: Ongoing efforts to improve the earthquake early warning system and public readiness drills, reflecting lessons learned from the 2024 quake


  • Geographical Context

    Taiwan, located about 100 miles off southeastern China, lies at the convergent boundary of the Eurasian and Philippine Sea plates within the Pacific Ring of Fire.

  • Economic Status

    It transitioned from a low-income to a high-income country through export-oriented industrialization, significant educational investments, and technological advancements in the manufacturing sector.

  • Cause of the Earthquake

    A magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck near Hualien City. It was caused by the Eurasian and Philippine Sea plate interaction, particularly along the thrust Longitudinal Valley Fault.

  • Primary Effects

    The quake killed at least 17 people, injured over 1,100, triggered landslides, damaged 870 buildings, and generated a localised tsunami.

  • Secondary Effects

    Large landslides trapped approximately 127 people in tunnels and around 600 in a remote village; subsequent aftershocks continued to affect the region.

  • Immediate Responses

    Included public alerts via an early warning system, extensive rescue operations, emergency medical aid, utility restorations, and the provision of temporary shelters.

  • Economic Impact

    Estimated damages from the earthquake totalled approximately $28 billion.

  • Long-term Responses:

    Initiatives include rebuilding, economic support, enhancements to building codes, mental health programs, and improvements to the early warning system.


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