A powerful earthquake struck off Taiwan on Wednesday, rocking the entire island, collapsing buildings and prompting tsunami warnings in Japan and the Philippines.

The Japan Meteorological Agency forecast a tsunami of up to 3 metres for the southern island group of Okinawa after the very shallow quake hit. A 30-centimetre tsunami reached Yonaguni Island at about half an hour later, JMA said.

The Philippines Seismology Agency issued a warning for residents in coastal areas of several provinces, urging them to evacuate to higher ground.

A partially collapsed building is seen in Hualien, eastern Taiwan on Wednesday.

A partially collapsed building is seen in Hualien, eastern Taiwan on Wednesday.Credit: TVBS/AP

Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring agency gave the magnitude as 7.2 while the US Geological Survey put it at 7.5. The epicentre was 18 kilometres south-west of the eastern city of Hualien, Taiwan, and about 35 kilometres deep.

The US Geological Survey reported a second tremor of magnitude 6.5 hit nearby – 11km north-east of city.

A five-storey building in lightly populated Hualien appeared heavily damaged, collapsing its first floor and leaving the rest leaning at a 45-degree angle. In the capital, Taipei, tiles fell from older buildings and within some newer office complexes.

Train service was suspended across the island of 23 million people, as was subway service in Taipei. But things quickly returned to normal in the capital, with children going to school and the morning commute appearing to be normal.

Taiwanese television showed buildings in Hualien shaken off their foundations. The strong quake knocked out power in several parts of the city, according to a Reuters witness.

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