2006 Hengchun earthquake

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2006 Hengchun earthquake
2006 Hengchun earthquake is located in Taiwan
2006 Hengchun earthquake
Date December 26, 2006 (2006-12-26)
Magnitude 7.1 Mw
Depth 10 kilometres (6 mi)
Epicenter 21°50′N 120°32′E / 21.83°N 120.54°E / 21.83; 120.54
Areas affected Physical: Republic of China
Communications: Various countries in East and Southeast Asia
Casualties 2 dead; 42 injured

The 2006 Hengchun earthquake occurred on Tuesday December 26, 2006 at 12:25 UTC (20:25 local time), with an epicenter off the southwest coast of Taiwan, approximately 22.8 km west southwest of Hengchun, Pingtung County, Taiwan, with an exact hypocenter 21.9 km deep in the Luzon Strait, which connects the South China Sea with the Philippine Sea.

There are conflicting reports of the magnitude of the quake, with the Republic of China's Central Weather Bureau marking it at 7.0 ML,[1] the United States Geological Survey estimating it at 7.1 Mw,[2] the Hong Kong Observatory,[3] and the Japan Meteorological Agency [4] put the magnitude at 7.2 Mw. The earthquake not only caused casualties and building damages, but also damaged several undersea cables, disrupting telecommunication services in various parts of Asia. Coincidentally, the earthquake occurred on the second anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake that devastated the coastal communities across Southeast and South Asia and 3rd anniversary of the 2003 earthquake that devastated the southern Iranian city of Bam.



News agencies aired reports in southern Taiwan of collapsed houses, building fires, hotel guests being trapped in elevators, and telephone outages due to severed lines. Two people were reported killed and 42 injured. The earthquake was felt all over Taiwan, including the capital city of Taipei, which is 450 km north of Hengchun.[5][6]

Power was knocked out to a reported 3,000 homes, but service was restored within a few hours. As of the following morning, cleanup was already underway.[7]

Fifteen historical buildings, including a Grade 2 elephant site, have been damaged in the historic center of Hengchun.[8]

The 3rd nuclear power plant, Maanshan Nuclear Power Plant, of Taiwan Power Company nearby was affected by the earthquake. Because of the vigorous vibration, the alarm at Reactor #2 was activated, forcing the operators to carry out SCRAM immediately. However, Reactor #1 was not affected and remained operational. After the emergency shutdown of Reactor #2, engineers checked the facilities at the plant and no problems had been found.[9]

Hong Kong and Macau[edit]

Residents in different districts of Hong Kong felt the earthquake. Fearing the collapse of their buildings, people in Sham Shui Po, Wong Tai Sin and Yuen Long ran down to the streets.[10] The Hong Kong Observatory estimated the tremor as Modified Mercalli intensity scale of III to IV.[11] In Macau, residents called the Office for Meteorological and Geophysical Services to ask whether earthquake occurred in their city.


There were no reports of major damage in China although the quake could be felt there. In Xiamen, Fujian, people evacuated from their home and office to open spaces.[12] The earthquake could also be felt in various cities in Guangdong province and Fujian province (e.g. Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shantou and Fuzhou.)[13]


Aftershocks greater than 5 Richter magnitude scale (or more correctly local magnitude ML scale) are listed in the table below:

# Time Location Magnitude Depth
1 December 26, 2006 20:34 UTC+8 21.97°N, 120.42°E, 11.6 km northwest of Fangliao 7.0 ML 50.2 km [14]
2 December 26, 2006 20:40 UTC+8 21.94°N, 120.4E, 35.4 km west of Hengchun 5.2 ML 25.0 km [15]
3 December 26, 2006 22:53 UTC+8 21.86°N, 120.39°E, 39.8 km southwest of Hengchun 5.2 ML 25.0 km [16]
4 December 26, 2006 23:41 UTC+8 22.09°N, 120.22°E, 31.6 km southwest of Little Liuchiu Island 5.5 ML 23.0 km [17]
5 December 27, 2006 01:35 UTC+8 21.78°N, 120.31°E, 50.4 km southwest of Hengchun 5.8 ML 32.6 km [18]
6 December 27, 2006 10:30 UTC+8 22.03°N, 120.33°E, 35.1 km south of Little Liuchiu Island 5.9 ML 28.0 km [19]
7 December 28, 2006 17:38 UTC+8 21.96°N, 120.56°E, 54.5 km southwest of Hengchun 5.3 ML 54.5 km [20]

In addition, three others were reported that were of at least 4.7 intensity according to the Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau.[21]

Tsunami warning[edit]


While this earthquake marked the first time a tsunami was detected in Taiwan, the change in water level was only 25 cm and no damage was caused.[22]

Warning from agencies in other areas[edit]

Early reports issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency indicated that the earthquake triggered a 1 meter tsunami, which was detected heading for the east coast of the Philippines, with Basco in its likely path.[23] The Hong Kong Observatory also issued tsunami information bulletin,[24] while indicating Hong Kong would likely be unaffected.

Disruption in communications[edit]

The earthquake catastrophically disrupted Internet services in Asia, affecting many Asian countries. Financial transactions, particularly in the foreign exchange market were seriously affected as well.[25][26] The aforementioned disruption was caused by damage to several submarine communications cables.[27]


Map showing the impact of the earthquake

Chunghwa Telecom stated that an undersea cable off the southern coast had been damaged,[28] interrupting communications (including IDD, telephone services and internet services) of Taiwan with China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States. The international calling capacity was reduced to 40%.[29]


China Telecom reported that several international submarine communications cables had been broken,[30][31] including:

  • CUCN and SMW3, which was damaged at December 26, 2006 20:25 UTC+8 approximately 9.7 km away from landing point in Fangshan, Pingtung County, Taiwan;
  • APCN 2 S3, which was damaged at December 27, 2006 02:00 UTC+8 approximately 2100 km away from landing point in Chongming, Shanghai, China;
  • APCN 2 S7, which was damaged at December 27, 2006 00:06 UTC+8 approximately 904 km away from landing point in Tanshui, Taipei County (now New Taipei City), Taiwan;
  • FLAG Europe Asia, the segment between Hong Kong and Shanghai was broken at December 27, 2006 04:56 UTC+8;
  • FLAG North Asia Loop, the segment between Hong Kong and Pusan was broken at December 26, 2006 20:43 UTC+8,
    severely damaging the communications within the Asia-Pacific region and with the United States and Europe.[32][33]

IDD, telephone services and internet services of China with North America was seriously affected by the earthquake. However, China Telecom announced on December 31 that IDD services had resumed to normal level. Internet services had resumed to 70% of normal level. As the undersea cables to North America was seriously damaged by the earthquake, the quality of internet services depends on the progress of repairing work.[34]

Hong Kong[edit]

Starting from the dawn of December 27, connection between foreign web sites/servers and Hong Kong internet users kept failing. Wikipedia, search engines, online messengers like ICQ and MSN Messenger, and portals like Google, Yahoo! and MSN have been largely unavailable. Access to Chinese Wikipedia was cut by the earthquake too, as the servers are located in South Korea.[35] Websites located in mainland China, such as xinhuanet.com, the website of Xinhua News Agency, were also inaccessible.

On December 29, the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) [1] of Hong Kong Government announced that, IDD and roaming calls to Taiwan have resumed to 50% of the normal level. IDD and roaming calls to other Asian countries (e.g. South Korea) are slower than normal condition. Calls from Hong Kong to overseas using calling cards have the same situation as the IDD and roaming calls.[36]

However, calling from overseas to Hong Kong using calling cards is still facing serious congestion.[37]

For internet services, as of December 29, connections to web sites in the U.S., South Korea, Japan and Taiwan were still very slow. However, the situation was improving, sites which could not be accessed before (e.g. Wikipedia, Google, YouTube) were available at extremely slow speed.[38] Among the internet service providers in Hong Kong, PCCW's Netvigator was the slowest to resume enough bandwidth for their users.[39] Therefore, as a temporary remedy, many internet users in Hong Kong used proxy servers in Australia, Thailand, Spain or even the UAE and Kuwait to access foreign websites.

As of December 31, the situation of internet connection had improved. Although sites that were previously unavailable became accessible, the connection speed was still slower than normal.[40]


The earthquake has cut PLDT's capacity and connectivity by as much as 40 percent [41] The two largest Philippine mobile communications companies Smart Communications and Globe Telecom had also reported some international connectivity problems at that time. The rest (60%) of telephone and Internet capacity was operational as carriers rerouted through other links to North America, the Middle East, Hawaii, Malaysia and Singapore.[41] Call centers and other outsourced business processes that have become a major industry in the Philippines feared that the cable damage might hamper their operations dramatically; only two centers were totally shut down due to the problems.[41]

United States[edit]

In the United States, several networks and bloggers have experienced a noticeable reduction of the volume of spam received after the earthquake. A blogger noted that "one large network in North America saw their mail from Korea drop by 90% and from China by 99%."[42]

Other areas[edit]

Korea Telecom,[32] Malaysia's Telekom Malaysia [43] and Jaring,[44] as well as the Communications Authority of Thailand,[45] Singapore's StarHub and SingTel [46] and Brunei's Telbru have also reported disruption to most Internet services. In Singapore, search engines and portals like Google, Yahoo!, MSN and most websites have been virtually unreachable. In Indonesia, Google is not accessible, but Yahoo! and Wikipedia can still be used, though the network connection speed is very slow. Sri Lankan Internet services have likewise been affected. In Malaysia, there were problems with popular Internet services [47] such as Gmail and Yahoo! News, however the situation is reported to be improving on 29 December.

Repair work[edit]

According to the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) of Hong Kong Government, among the five cable ships deployed, two arrived at the scene. However, one of the two ships experienced a major fault on December 30 afternoon and was under urgent repair in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The repair for the ship was estimated to take about a week. Therefore the repair for the cables had to be postponed. It is estimated that the first part of the repair of one of the submarine cables would be completed around January 16, 2007. For the other damaged cables, survey and assessment were being arranged and repair of most of the cables is expected to be completed progressively by the end of January 2007.[48][49]

IDD Services and disrupted internet service in Southeast Asia has been greatly restored pending the repairs and rerouted traffic.[50]

Before the completion of the cable works, however, some countries had already found alternative methods to restore the Internet access. For example, by January 3, 2007, Singapore's SingTel had already fully restored the Internet access provided by them.[51] SingNet, SingTel's subsidiary, which does ISP services, released an announcement on its homepage, mentioning that "internet access to services such as gaming and video downloading may experience some delays".[52] Whether or not this is related to the earthquake is unknown, albeit likely.

According to China Daily (January 16) the repair work might be completed end of January, yet heavy winds in the Bashi Channel have stirred up 10–12-meter waves, which makes it impossible to resume work.[53]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Earthquake Report #95106, Central Weather Bureau of Republic of China, 2010-04-14
  2. ^ USGS Earthquake Hazards Program » Magnitude 7.1 - TAIWAN REGION, USGS, 2006-12-26
  3. ^ List of locally felt earth tremors since 1979, Hong Kong Observatory
  4. ^ 台湾付近震度分布図, Japan Meteorological Agency, 2006-12-26(Japanese)
  5. ^ 台灣接連規模6.7、6.4強震 高屏震度5級 全台強烈搖晃, ETtoday, Taiwan, 2006-12-26 (Chinese)
  6. ^ Clean up work begins after Taiwan quake, Associated Press, 2006-12-27
  7. ^ Taiwan starts earthquake clean-up, CNN, 2006-12-26
  8. ^ 恆春古城 城倒15座, UDN, Taiwan, 2006-12-27 (Chinese)
  9. ^ 台湾核电厂紧急停机, Phoenix Television website, 2006-12-27(Chinese)
  10. ^ 受台灣7.2級地震影響香港地震居民恐慌逃入警署, Apple Daily, 2006-12-27 (Chinese)
  11. ^ Press Release at 22:05HKT, December 26, 2006 by Hong Kong Observstory
  12. ^ 恆春地震廈門亦感震動, Ming Pao, 2006-12-26(Chinese)
  13. ^ 台湾南部海域地震福建、广东普遍有感, Xinhua News Agency website, 2006-12-26(Chinese)
  14. ^ Earthquake Report #95107, Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan, 2010-04-12
  15. ^ Earthquake Report #95108, Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan, 2006-12-26
  16. ^ Minor Earthquake Report, Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan, 2006-12-26
  17. ^ Earthquake Report #95109, Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan, 2006-12-26
  18. ^ Minor Earthquake Report, Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan, 2006-12-27
  19. ^ Earthquake Report #95110, Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan, 2006-12-27
  20. ^ Minor Earthquake Report, Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan, 2006-12-28
  21. ^ Recent Earthquake, Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan
  22. ^ 從恆春地震看國內建築防震問題, 新浪新聞中心|中廣新聞網, 2006-12-28 (Chinese)
  23. ^ Taiwan starts earthquake clean-up, CNN, December 26, 2006
  24. ^ Tsunami Information and Warning, Hong Kong Observatory
  25. ^ 網上銀行服務仍「斷纜」, Sing Tao Daily, 2006-12-30 (Chinese)
  26. ^ 韓股匯市受挫港交易無礙 星洲期貨受影響 「彭博」電訊一度中斷, Ming Pao, 2006-12-28 (Chinese)
  27. ^ Quakes disrupt Asia communications, CNN, 2006-12-27
  28. ^ 受台灣南部昨晚八點多發生的 6.5級強震影響,中華電信擁有之國際海纜招致重大破壞, Chunghwa Telecom press release, 2006-12-27(Chinese)
  29. ^ "Earthquake disrupts Internet access in Asia" Computerworld, 2006-12-27
  30. ^ 地震損電纜影響通信上網, Ming Pao, 2006-12-27(Chinese)
  31. ^ Submarine communications cable map of China
  32. ^ a b Asia communications hit by quake, BBC, 2006-12-27
  33. ^ 地震損電纜影響通信上網, Ming Pao, 2006-12-27(Chinese)
  34. ^ 中電信國際話音專線業務全部恢復, Sing Tao Daily, 2006-12-31 (Chinese)
  35. ^ 地震毀電纜影響國際通訊, Ming Pao website, 2006-12-27(Chinese)
  36. ^ OFTA's Update on 29 December on the Restoration of External Telecommunications Services, the Office of the Telecommunications Authority, Hong Kong SAR, 2006-12-29
  37. ^ 海底電纜或需多於七天修復, Sing Tao Daily, 29 December 2006(Chinese)
  38. ^ 長途電話恢復 部分網站仍緩慢 , Ming Pao, 2006-12-29(Chinese)
  39. ^ 香港網民對各大ISP表現的投票, discuss.com.hk(Chinese)
  40. ^ 海底電纜修復延誤一周, Sing Tao Daily, 2006-12-31(Chinese)
  41. ^ a b c Quake cuts RP telecoms services by 40 percent The Manila Times Retrieved 28 December 2006.
  42. ^ "Earthquake in Asia, Spam Plummets." 2006-12-27
  43. ^ Taiwan earthquake disrupts TM's Internet service, TheEdgeDaily, 2006-12-27
  44. ^ Quake shakes up the Net, The Star Online, 2006-12-28
  45. ^ CAT Telecom to invest in optical networks in the Indian Ocean, Thai News Agency, 2006-12-30
  46. ^ Earthquake in Taiwan results in slow internet service in Singapore, Channel NewsAsia, 2006-12-27
  47. ^ Internet access improves, The Star Online, 2006-12-29
  48. ^ OFTA's Update on December 31 on the Restoration of External Telecommunications Services, the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) of Hong Kong Government, 2006-12-31
  49. ^ 網絡擠塞恐周二再現 光纜維修延至下月底, Ming Pao, 2006-12-31 (Chinese)
  50. ^ Telecoms services in Asia could take weeks to fully return, Channel NewsAsia, 2006-12-28
  51. ^ Internet and voice traffic back to normal, SingTel press release, 2007-01-03
  52. ^ SingTel.com - Consumer - Internet - User ID: - Login as at:
  53. ^ Undersea cable repairs could take 2 more weeks (Page 1) & A time-tested solution for Asia's damaged Internet cables (Page 12), China Daily, 2007-01-16

External links[edit]