Strong quake hits east Taiwan, rattles buildings in capital

Taiwan is on the string of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean known as the ‘Rim of Fire.’ (Reuters)
Updated 18 April 2019

Strong quake hits east Taiwan, rattles buildings in capital

  • The 6.1 magnitude earthquake shook buildings in the capital, Taipei, which is about 115 kilometers away
  • Taiwan is on the string of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean known as the ‘Rim of Fire’

TAIPEI, Taiwan: A strong 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan’s east coast Thursday afternoon, according to the island’s Central Weather Bureau. TV footage showed at least one landslide but there were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries.
The bureau said the quake happened at 1:01 p.m. (0501 GMT), with its epicenter just over 10 kilometers northwest of the eastern coastal city of Hualien. The depth was 10 kilometers, according to the United States Geological Survey, while Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau put the depth at almost 19 kilometers, a distance that would lessen the likelihood of damage.
The quake shook buildings in the capital, Taipei, which is about 115 kilometers away, with one multi-story building reported to be leaning against its neighbor. The city’s subway system suspended service, while schools along the east coast were evacuated, with students holding their backpacks over their heads for protection.
People in Chinese cities close to the Taiwan Strait dividing the island from mainland China reported on social media that they felt the quake.
Footage run by Taiwanese television stations showed overturned furniture in homes and offices and at least one landslide along the mountainous and lightly populated east coast.
Taiwan is on the string of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean known as the “Rim of Fire” and is frequently rocked by tremors, including a 1999 quake that killed more than 2,300 people.
An earthquake in February 2018 in Hualien killed 17 people when four buildings partially collapsed. That quake hit two years to the day after an apartment building in the southwestern city of Tainan collapsed in an earthquake, killing 115 people.


UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

Updated 18 August 2019

UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

  • Johnson will travel for talks with German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron
  • Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit

LONDON: UK's Boris Johnson will visit European capitals this week on his first overseas trip as prime minister, as his government said Sunday it had ordered the scrapping of the decades-old law enforcing its EU membership.

Johnson will travel to Berlin on Wednesday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and on to Paris Thursday for discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron, Downing Street confirmed on Sunday, amid growing fears of a no-deal Brexit in two and a half months.

The meetings, ahead of a two-day G7 summit starting Saturday in the southern French resort of Biarritz, are his first diplomatic forays abroad since replacing predecessor Theresa May last month.

Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit or warn that it faces the prospect of Britain's disorderly departure on October 31 -- the date it is due to leave.

European leaders have repeatedly rejected reopening an accord agreed by May last year but then rejected by British lawmakers on three occasions, despite Johnson's threats that the country will leave then without an agreement.

In an apparent show of intent, London announced Sunday that it had ordered the repeal of the European Communities Act, which took Britain into the forerunner to the EU 46 years ago and gives Brussels law supremacy.

The order, signed by Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay on Friday, is set to take effect on October 31.

"This is a landmark moment in taking back control of our laws from Brussels," Barclay said in a statement.

"This is a clear signal to the people of this country that there is no turning back -- we are leaving the EU as promised on October 31, whatever the circumstances -- delivering on the instructions given to us in 2016."

The moves come as Johnson faces increasing pressure to immediately recall MPs from their summer holidays so that parliament can debate Brexit.

More than 100 lawmakers, who are not due to return until September 3, have demanded in a letter that he reconvene the 650-seat House of Commons and let them sit permanently until October 31.

"Our country is on the brink of an economic crisis, as we career towards a no-deal Brexit," said the letter, signed by MPs and opposition party leaders who want to halt a no-deal departure.

"We face a national emergency, and parliament must be recalled now."

Parliament is set to break up again shortly after it returns, with the main parties holding their annual conferences during the September break.

Main opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to call a vote of no confidence in Johnson's government after parliament returns.

He hopes to take over as a temporary prime minister, seek an extension to Britain's EU departure date to stop a no-deal Brexit, and then call a general election.

"What we need is a government that is prepared to negotiate with the European Union so we don't have a crash-out on the 31st," Corbyn said Saturday.

"This government clearly doesn't want to do that."

Britain could face food, fuel and medicine shortages and chaos at its ports in a no-deal Brexit, The Sunday Times newspaper reported, citing a leaked government planning document.

There would likely be some form of hard border imposed on the island of Ireland, the document implied.

Rather than worst-case scenarios, the leaked document, compiled this month by the Cabinet Office ministry, spells out the likely ramifications of a no-deal Brexit, the broadsheet claimed.

The document said logjams could affect fuel distribution, while up to 85 percent of trucks using the main ports to continental Europe might not be ready for French customs.

The availability of fresh food would be diminished and prices would go up, the newspaper said.