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Strong quake rocks Taiwan
Updated: 2004-10-15 13:50

A strong earthquake in the Pacific Ocean off Taiwan rocked the northeast of the island on Friday, damaging houses and injuring several people, officials said.

The epicentre of the quake, which measured 7.0 on the Richter scale and struck just after noon at 0408 GMT, was about 110 km (68 miles) east of Ilan on the northeastern coast, at a depth of 59 km (37 miles), the weather bureau said in a statement.

The tremor, the strongest since a killer earthquake in 1999 that killed thousands, lasted for nearly one minute, shaking skyscrapers in Taipei, during the lunch-hour rush.

"There was one woman in her 40s who received minor head injuries when a water tower toppled off a tin veranda and onto the street," said an official from Taiwan's Disaster Recovery Center.

Cable news networks reported a house collapsed in the northern county of Taoyuan, injuring one.

Also in Taoyuan, fire engulfed a factory owned by Teco Electric and Machinery Co, but it was not clear if it was releated to the earthquake. The damage was not immediately known.

Earthquakes occur frequently in Taiwan, which lies on a seismically active stretch of the Pacific basin.

The mass rapid transit system in Taipei was briefly suspended after the quake.

A dozen workers people were trapped inside Taipei 101, the world's tallest building, but they were rescued shortly.

One of Taiwan's most deadly quakes occurred in September 1999. Measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale, it killed more than 2,400 people and destroyed or damaged 50,000 buildings.

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