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Tsunami warning raised for 4 northern Luzon areas following Taiwan quake

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has raised a tsunami warning over four areas in northern Luzon after a powerful earthquake rattled Taiwan early Wednesday morning.

Phivolcs identified the areas under the tsunami warning as the Batanes Group of Islands, Cagayan, Ilocos Norte and Isabela provinces.

A major earthquake hit Taiwan's east shortly before 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, prompting tsunami warnings for the self-ruled island as well as parts of southern Japan.

According to the director of Taipei's Seismology Center, the earthquake was "the strongest in 25 years."

"The earthquake is close to land and it's shallow. It's felt all over Taiwan and offshore islands... it's the strongest in 25 years since the (1999) earthquake," Wu Chien-fu said, referring to a September 1999 quake with 7.6-magnitude that killed 2,400 people.

Phivolcs warned residents in coastal areas facing the Pacific Ocean to prepare for potentially high tsunami waves and urged immediate evacuation.

“The people in the coastal areas of the following provinces are STRONGLY ADVISED TO IMMEDIATELY EVACUATE to higher grounds or move farther inland,” Phivolcs said.

“Owners of boats in harbors, estuaries or shallow coastal water of the above-mentioned provinces should secure their boats and move away from the waterfront. Boats already at sea during this period should stay offshore in deep waters until further advised,” it added.

According to Phivolcs, the initial tsunami waves are expected to hit between 08:33 a.m. and 10:33 a.m. on Wednesday.

"It may not be the largest and these waves may continue for hours," Phivolcs added. — with a report from Agence France-Presse