taiwan-cp-11327331

Seismograph readings indicate a 6.7 magnitude earthquake that shook Taiwan on Tuesday. ((Associated Press))

An earthquake struck off the coast of Taiwan on Tuesday, sparking fears of a tsunami on the second anniversary of one that killed about 230,000 people in Southeast Asia.

The quake had a magnitude of between 6.7 and 7.2, Japan's Meteorological Bureau said.

It started a metre-high tsunami that rolled towardthe Philippines, spurring thebureau to issue a warning that"a destructive local tsunami"could hitthe small northern town of Basco.

But the warning was quickly withdrawn.

In Taiwan, the quake sent objects flying in the capital, Taipei. Local media reported that one person died and three were hurt when their home collapsed in thecity of Pingtung.

Other reports said the quake cracked roads, damaged a major bridge and downed power lines that started minor electrical fires.

The initial tremor was centered about 21 kilometres off thesouthern tip of Taiwan, between Taiwan and the Philippines.

Ceremonies held to mark 2nd anniversary

The warning resonated because it came on the second anniversary of the tsunami that devastated south Asia on Dec. 26, 2004,leaving about 230,000 people dead and missing in 11 countries.

They included 15 Canadians who were officially listed as dead as of March 9, 2005.

That disaster was caused by an earthquake of magnitude of 9.1 — the most powerful the world had seen in 40 years — thatcrumpledthe ocean floor about150 kilometres off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Waves caused by the quakereached 10 metres.

Ceremonies were held throughoutSoutheast Asia on Tuesday to remember the second anniversary of the disaster, including:

  • In Thailand, where more than 7,000 died, Buddhist monks chanted.
  • In Indonesia, the worst-hit country — the toll is estimated at 167,000 in the province of Aceh alone—residents of Bali walked briskly inland in an exercise to prepare for another storm.
  • All over south Asia, mourners visited graves, while Thai authorities prepared to open a cemetery for unidentified victims.

UNICEF official Mervin Fletcher said the agency has built 150 schools in Aceh, but still has 300 to go.

He said people are getting back to their lives. Especially among the children, "there's an amazing resilience there."

Tsunamis are caused by seismic activity under the ocean.

With files from the Associated Press