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Strong earthquake strikes off Taiwan

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A strong earthquake struck off Taiwan on Thursday, causing buildings to shake violently in Taipei but with no immediate reports of damage or injury.

The quake was of magnitude 6.2, the US Geological Survey which monitors earthquakes worldwide, initially said. It later downgraded this to 6.1.

The quake struck off Yilan City on the island’s east coast at a depth of 73 kilometres (45 miles) at 9.19 pm local time (1319 GMT), according to the USGS.

Taipei residents reported shaking buildings, with the quake felt across the island.

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Chen Kuo-chang, head of the Central Weather Bureau’s Seismological Center, said the earthquake was the strongest this year.

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“The earthquake was felt all over Taiwan,” he said, with tremors lasting for around 30 to 40 seconds.

Recent heavy rainfall around the cities of Yilan and New Taipei meant that authorities should be on guard for mudslides in the surrounding mountains, Chen added.

Vice President William Lai urged calm, posting on Facebook that the government was monitoring the situation.

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There have been no immediate reports of serious damage or injuries.

But residents in Taipei said they were jolted by the quake, with an AFP reporter saying that she felt her building sway and heard sirens in the distance as she scrambled across her apartment.

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