Taiwan earthquake map.

The strongest earthquake in almost 25 years hit Taiwan on Wednesday morning, damaging buildings, halting rail traffic and forcing the evacuation of semiconductor manufacturing plants.

The quake — with a magnitude of 7.4, according to the US Geological Survey — struck at 7.58am off the east coast, 25km south-east of Hualien, a city of 100,000 people.

There were no immediate reports of casualties, but at least two buildings in Hualien were severely damaged, and people were trapped in one of them, according to witnesses.

Train services were suspended and New Taipei, the municipality surrounding the capital, suspended school and work for the day.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s largest contract chipmaker, evacuated personnel from some of its plants.

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