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Taiwan’s Most Powerful Earthquake In 25 Years Claims Nine Lives And Leaves Over 800 Injured

Taiwan’s Most Powerful Earthquake In 25 Years

The Voice Of EU | A formidable seismic event rocked Taiwan’s serene landscape at 7:58 a.m. local time on Wednesday, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake. Initial reports from authorities confirm the loss of at least seven lives, with hundreds more wounded in the aftermath of this calamitous event. Rescue efforts are underway to extricate 77 individuals believed to be trapped beneath the debris of collapsed structures and amidst the wreckage of damaged thoroughfares, marking this seismic upheaval as the most potent to strike Taiwan in a quarter-century.

According to the Taiwan National Fire Agency, the current casualty count stands at seven fatalities and a staggering 736 injuries. While local assessments peg the earthquake at a magnitude of 7.2 on the Richter scale, U.S. seismologists assert a magnitude of 7.4, underscoring the seismic force unleashed upon the region.

The seismic tumult unleashed a series of robust aftershocks, including one registering at magnitude 6.5, prompting cautionary advisories from the Seismological Center of the Taiwan Meteorological Administration, forecasting potential aftershocks over the ensuing three to four days.

Located approximately 15 miles south-southeast of Hualien County’s administrative hub, nestled within the craggy embrace of Taiwan’s eastern coast, the epicenter’s impact reverberated across the island, as documented by the Taiwanese news agency CNA. Scenes of fissured thoroughfares, vehicular entombment beneath landslides, structurally compromised edifices, crumpled cranes, and askew abodes encapsulate the urban carnage witnessed in Hualien’s precincts.

The seismic ripple extended its reach, palpably felt on Japan’s Okinawa isles, inciting initial tsunami apprehensions promptly addressed by Japanese authorities. Even residents of Hangzhou, situated over 400 miles distant from the epicenter along China’s coastline, experienced tremors of this seismic event. However, subsequent reassurances from Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines have allayed fears of a looming tsunami threat.

Taiwan's Most Powerful Earthquake In 25 Years Claims Nine Lives And Leaves Over 800 Injured
Firefighters work at the site where a building collapsed following the earthquake in Hualien, Taiwan. TAIWAN NATIONAL FIRE AGENCY (via REUTERS)

Taiwan’s pivotal role in global semiconductor production underscores the ripple effects of this seismic upheaval. Accounting for approximately 60% of the world’s semiconductor output and 90% of cutting-edge semiconductor technology, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), a dominant player in the sector, has enacted factory closures and evacuations to safeguard its workforce. Concurrently, other semiconductor manufacturers have initiated preemptive shutdowns and comprehensive assessments to evaluate potential infrastructure damage.

This seismic convulsion stands as Taiwan’s most substantial earthquake since the devastating 1999 temblor, which exacted a toll of over 2,400 lives and left nearly 10,000 individuals injured, serving as a somber reminder of the region’s vulnerability to nature’s formidable forces.

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We want to tear up the garden in our new home and replace it with artificial lawn – is it a good idea?

We’ve just bought our first home and it comes with a compact 20ft garden.

However, it’s quite overgrown and we’re not all that green-fingered.

We want to put down an artificial lawn so we don’t have the upkeep of constantly cutting grass and de-weeding.

Is it a good idea? How much would it cost, does it add value to a home and what is the best quality artificial lawn on the market?

Are there any other factors we need to consider before taking the plunge?

Sacrilege? A This is Money reader wants to rip up their lawn and replace it with artificial lawn

Sacrilege? A This is Money reader wants to rip up their lawn and replace it with artificial lawn

Jane Denton replies: I understand you aren’t keen on the idea of maintaining a real lawn, but would urge you to think twice before ripping it up and replacing it with an artificial one. 

It’s not a decision to take lightly. They’re bad for wildlife, and can often look rather naff.  

Artificial grass is often, but not always, made of virgin plastic and typically lasts between 10 to 15 years, according to consumer group Which?

That said, I fully appreciate that artificial lawns can be very useful, particularly for those without the time, inclination, mobility or means to maintain a natural lawn.

If you sell your property in future, the question of whether artificial grass would have an impact on the value of your home boils down to the personal tastes of prospective buyers. 

There are different types of artificial grass on the market, including nylon, polyethylene and polypropylene. 

The costs involved will depend on the quality of artificial lawn purchased, the amount of space being covered and labour costs, which can vary a lot depending on where you live. 

Artificial grass can cost anything from around £15 per square metre, which would make it on a par with carpet. However, premium-quality artificial grass, designed to look and feel like the real deal, can cost as much as £60 per square metre, according to Which?

If you decide to get artificial grass, do your homework beforehand. Compare the different types available and check how easy they are to install, whether or not they look natural and if they are easy to clean. 

Even artificial lawns require some maintenance to keep them in mint condition. 

Property prowess: Estate agent Liam Gretton

Property prowess: Estate agent Liam Gretton

Liam Gretton, owner of Liam Gretton Bespoke Estate Agent, on Wirral Peninsula, says: As an estate agent and homeowner, I understand that maintaining a garden can be daunting. 

Over the years, artificial lawns have increased in popularity as they can be a practical solution for those looking to enjoy their garden without having to mow a lawn.

For homeowners who aren’t particularly green-fingered, it’s an alternative to natural grass. 

An artificial lawn eliminates the need for mowing, watering, and weeding, which can save both time and effort. 

Additionally, it’s durable and can withstand heavy foot traffic, making it ideal for families with children and pets. 

Ultimately, it is your home and artificial grass has become increasingly utilised due to its low maintenance and year-round green appearance. 

However, it is also important to think about how it could affect the saleability of your home in future. 

While it may offer convenience for the moment, it may not provide the kerb appeal  or the same ecological benefits as natural grass, such as supporting local wildlife and aiding in water absorption.

With any product, you get the good, the bad, the ugly and the exceptional. Artificial grass is the same. 

The cost of installing an artificial lawn can vary widely depending on the quality of the grass, the size of the area, and the complexity of the installation. 

On average, you can expect to pay between £10 to £50 per square metre for the material itself. 

Installation costs can range from £20 to £60 per square metre. For a 20ft garden, which is roughly 18.5 square metres, the total cost could range from £555 to £1,700.

It’s advisable to get quotes from several suppliers to ensure you get the best deal, and remember the best deal isn’t always price, think about the quality of artificial grass also being used.

When it comes to quality, look for artificial grass that is UV-resistant, as it has a realistic appearance, and comes with a good warranty. 

Brands like Namgrass, Easigrass, and TigerTurf are renowned for their high-quality products. Pay attention to the pile height and density. A higher pile and denser grass tend to look more natural and feel softer underfoot. 

Artificial grass can add value to your home, but it’s important to highlight that, in some cases, it can decrease the value. 

A well-installed artificial lawn can enhance the kerb appeal of your garden, making it look neat and tidy all year round. However, some buyers may prefer natural grass for its look, environmental benefits and natural feel. 

Ultimately, it depends on the preferences of potential buyers searching for a home in your area.

Before making your decision, factors like drainage and maintenance need to be taken into account. It’s vital to ensure that the artificial grass has good drainage to prevent waterlogging. 

While minimal, artificial grass still requires some level of maintenance, such as brushing and occasional cleaning, to keep the fibres upright and in good condition. 

It is important to reflect on the environmental implications of artificial grass. Some artificial grasses are made from recyclable materials and have a lower environmental footprint.

In the know: Andrew Duff is a garden and landscape designer

In the know: Andrew Duff is a garden and landscape designer 

Andrew Duff, a garden and landscape designer and chair of the Society of Garden Designers, says: While many of us are looking for low-maintenance gardens, it is an absolute myth that artificial lawns are easier to maintain. 

They are also hot underfoot in summer, difficult to keep clean and generally are not pleasant to sit on. 

More importantly, they are also extremely damaging to the environment and their increased use in this country is now destroying our soils and natural wildlife habitats, contributing to carbon emissions, and polluting our waterways with micro-plastics.

Other than the environmental damage artificial turf causes, it can also have a detrimental effect on your property. 

In their recent Property Exchange podcast, estate agency Winkworth highlighted the damage caused by plastic grass, noting that artificial turf can impact the value of a vendor’s property, turn off prospective buyers and may even cause water damage to your property.

Send us your property question 

We’d love to hear from you if you have a property question and want to find out what the experts have to say on the matter. 

Whether you have neighbour woes, are looking to update or move home, or perhaps you can’t decide how to sort out an extension or make a room look bigger, we want to hear from you.

If you are a prospective first-time buyer or already on the housing ladder and have a property quandary, get in touch.

Email editor@thisismoney.co.uk

Please put PROPERTY in the subject line. 

I would urge you to reconsider using plastic grass in your new garden and think about a greener more sustainable alternative that can benefit wildlife, the environment and you! 

For instance, tapestry lawns combine low-growing flowering plants that are low in maintenance and high in ornamental value to create a vibrant patchwork of colours and textures. Not only are they beautiful, but they also attract wildlife, absorb rainfall twice as fast as a turf lawn and don’t need feeding.

Chamomile lawns are a good low-maintenance alternative to grass. They require no regular mowing, fertilising or watering, they help to improve the soil and they attract pollinators. 

Clover lawns are another great option. They don’t require mowing or watering and will stay green all year round, with the added benefit of a beautiful starscape of flowers during the summer.

If you would prefer a garden without a lawn, you could create a beautiful gravel garden using mediterranean plants that are great for the changing climate in the UK.

If you like, you can find a local garden designer to help you design your garden or provide a simple planting plan, as well as finding out more about alternatives to plastic grass.

We are all custodians of this wonderful planet and for those of us lucky enough to have access to a private garden we have a duty to care to enhance it for future generations and to preserve the life within it. 

That’s the life of your soil and the life of visiting birds and insects to your garden too. Real grass and plants are life-enhancing in every sense.

Tom Moss, owner of Moss Landscaping in Liverpool, says: Artificial Grass is a fantastic option for many people. It looks great aesthetically and will reduce maintenance, which is ideal for anyone with a busy life or disability. 

Using artificial lawn also means children and pets can enjoy playing in the garden without the worry of being covered in mud and dirt due to heavy downpours. 

It also helps reduce the need to use a sprinkler system during the hot summer months. 

Artificial grass holds its colour due to UV stability. To my mind, it’s a fantastic investment and would increase the value of any home.  

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Flurry of cowboy builders prompts Checkatrade to block record number of tradespeople

  • In the last six months Checkatrade turned away a record 668 tradespeople

The number of rogue traders trying and failing to sign up to Checkatrade has risen sharply in the last six months, data reveals. 

In the last six months, Checkatrade turned away a record 668 tradespeople who failed its sign-up checks, representing a 13 per cent rise year-on-year. 

Roofers comprised 19 per cent of those turned away, followed by driveway companies, at 11 per cent, and landscapers, at 7 per cent. 

Rejected: The number of rogue traders trying and failing to sign up to Checkatrade has risen sharply in the last six months

Rejected: The number of rogue traders trying and failing to sign up to Checkatrade has risen sharply in the last six months 

Of those who were rejected by Checkatrade, 31 per cent failed to provide documentation such as proof of identity and their address. 

Five per cent were rejected for having a poor trading history, while 8 per cent were turned away for having negative reviews online, Checkatrade said. 

Figures from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy published in 2022 claimed unscrupulous traders cost homeowners around £1.4billion a year. 

Separate Opinium research published in 2021 showed that over half of people are not confident they can spot a ‘cowboy’ from a verified tradesperson.  

Mathieu Proust, chief operating officer of Checkatrade, said: ‘The fact that we have had to block more trades from joining Checkatrade than ever before points to a worrying trend in the wider industry that consumers must be savvy about when planning their home projects. 

Has a cowboy builder ruined your home?

This is Money wants to hear from you if you’ve had a dire experience involving a cowboy builder. 

Please email: editor@thisismoney.co.uk

Please put PROPERTY in the subject line.  

‘High demand for tradespeople and longer-than-average wait times for jobs has placed a huge amount of pressure on the home services industry, creating the perfect environment for unscrupulous characters to step in and take advantage.’

Before a tradesperson can join Checkatrade as a member, they must pass up to 12 checks and agree to uphold the ‘Checkatrade Standard’. For households, each job is guaranteed by £1,000 for up to a year. 

Getting renovations done to a home can be extremely expensive and many homeowners are left waiting for lengthy periods to get work done. That’s if they’ve been able to find and speak to the tradesperson they are after. 

In some cases, homeowners are struggling to speak to the tradespeople they require, as requests for quotes often go unanswered. 

Last week, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) set out the principles trader recommendation sites. 

The CMA said trader recommendation websites should, among other measures, ensure that claims about services and the traders on their sites are clear and accurate, conduct appropriate checks before traders are allowed to advertise on their site and have accessible, transparent, and effective complaints processes. 

George Lusty, interim executive director for consumer protection, said: ‘More and more people are using sites and apps like these to help them find the right trader, from rewiring the kitchen to fixing a leak. 

‘But we’ve seen worrying evidence suggesting people could be misled into thinking these sites actually check traders – and will take action when things go wrong – which isn’t the case.’

Four red flags to watch out for

Checkatrade says there are four red flags to watch out for when getting a tradesperson to do a job in your home.

1. Watch out for overly cheap quotes

If the cost seems too good to be true, it most probably is. Checkatrade and other sits have costs guides which can be helpful.  Remember, cheap work can’t always be rectified. 

2. Be wary in an emergency 

If you have an emergency leak at home or your fence has blown down in extreme weather, it’s easy to just look up for the first suitable tradesperson you find and plump with them. 

However, it pays to pause for thought as some rogue traders will take advantage of busy periods or moments of crisis, such as extreme weather. Read reviews and ensure trades are vetted and qualified to undertake the requested work. 

3. Watch out for demands for full upfront payments

This is a serious red flag to watch out for. Don’t agree to making full payment in advance of work being undertaken. 

Get a detailed written quote that includes terms and conditions and states what will be covered by the quote – and what won’t. This could prove vital later down the line if the job doesn’t go to plan. 

4. Never accept work from trades who doorstep

According to Checkatrade, 44 per cent of people have been doorstepped.

However, reputable trades will never carry out this practice. 

Never be pressured into having work done by someone who knocks on your door and look out for vulnerable neighbours who may be at risk of being taken in. 

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This £4.5 million dream Omaze home in Cornwall with sea views, heated swimming pool and its own tower plus £250,000 in cash could be yours for just a tenner in latest draw

The lucky winner of the latest Omaze draw will bag a £4.5 million home with stunning sea views – along with £250,000 in cash – and the ticket is only ten pounds.

Endorsed by fierce Dragon’s Den businesswoman Deborah Meaden, the lavish four-bedroom property is located on the Cornish coastline, near Falmouth.

Not only does the gorgeous property boasts panoramic views, it is also kitted out with the latest mod cons including a heated swimming pool and its very own terraced tower.

As well as the luxury home, the winner will pocket £250,000 in cash to help them settle in with stamp duty, legal fees and the mortgage will already be covered. 

But if they don’t fancy setting up home there they can choose to sell it and become an instant multi-millionaire, or rent it out for an estimated £5,000 a month.

The lucky winner of the latest Omaze draw will bag a £4.5 million home with stunning sea views on the

The lucky winner of the latest Omaze draw will bag a £4.5 million home with stunning sea views on the 

The lavish property is located on the Cornish coastline, near Falmouth and boasts a range of the latest mod cons

The lavish property is located on the Cornish coastline, near Falmouth and boasts a range of the latest mod cons

As well as a tower and a hot tub, the luxurious home also has a wine cellar (pictured)

As well as a tower and a hot tub, the luxurious home also has a wine cellar (pictured)

Omaze says the draw, which costs £10 to enter, will raise a minimum of £1million for the RSPB to help support the protection and restoration of peatlands – which are home to some of the UK’s rarest birds and wildlife.

No-nonsense entrepreneur and TV personality Deborah Meaden is backing the partnership, urging people to protect our ‘threatened’ wildlife.

Deborah said: ‘Some of the best moments of my life have been when I have stood still surrounded by nature, just listening and watching. 

‘But nature is in crisis. We are now one of the most nature depleted countries in the world. 

‘We don’t want our wildlife to disappear, our wild places to be threatened, or our rivers to be polluted. 

‘This partnership with Omaze is a fantastic way to not only raise significant sums of money for vital conservation work, but also spread awareness for the RSPB and take action for nature. 

She added: ‘I’m so proud to be supporting this incredible partnership between the RSPB and Omaze. Together we can save the nature we love before it’s too late.’

Meticulously designed to celebrate the surrounding coastal landscape, the potential winner can soak in the Cornish countryside from every room of the house. 

No-nonsense entrepeneur and TV personality Deborah Meaden is endorsing the draw which will fundraise at least £1million for the RSPB

No-nonsense entrepeneur and TV personality Deborah Meaden is endorsing the draw which will fundraise at least £1million for the RSPB

The bespoke open plan kitchen in the ultra-modern home with panoramic views of the sea

The bespoke open plan kitchen in the ultra-modern home with panoramic views of the sea  

The lavish living space with floor to ceiling windows allowing light to spill into every crevice of the property

The lavish living space with floor to ceiling windows allowing light to spill into every crevice of the property

The four-bedroom house also has an outdoor heated pool (pictured) as well as a hot tub and speakers installed throughout the home

The four-bedroom house also has an outdoor heated pool (pictured) as well as a hot tub and speakers installed throughout the home 

The spectacular home comes with breath-taking open plan living space with a bespoke kitchen, dining room and luxurious sitting room area perfect for hosting guests.

The central stylish staircase to the lower ground floor leads to the main bedroom, with a deluxe en-suite bathroom and dressing area. 

This floor has a further three double bedrooms, two of which are en-suite, as well as a family bathroom, utility room, plant room and a chic wine room. 

Floor-to-ceiling glass windows and sliding doors allow sunlight to spill into every crevice of this ultra-modern home and are also a gateway to a spacious terrace which wraps around the house.

The large dining terrace can be accessed via the kitchen and boasts an idyllic space for entertaining guests alfresco style at anytime of the day.

Boasting luxury features, the home has quality speakers installed throughout the house, an outdoor sunken fire pit to keep warm outside as well as a hot tub and pool house.

The winner could soak in the coastal surroundings from the outdoor heated pool or the hot tub – or even the pool house, which could be used as an office.

However the property’s unique features don’t end there, with a striking tower located in the southern end of the house. 

Accessible via a second staircase, the tower connects the cosy ground floor snug to the first-floor office as well as a fantastic sundowner terrace.

The winner’s home would also be surrounded with a copious amount of colourful plants and shrubs as well as outstanding sea views across to the iconic Pendennis Castle and St Anthony’s Head Lighthouse.

The glamorous home also has an outdoor kitchen with a sunken fire, with direct access to the South West Coast Path.  

The winner will be able to overlook the stunning Cornish countryside from almost every room of the house (pictured: one of the bedrooms)

The winner will be able to overlook the stunning Cornish countryside from almost every room of the house (pictured: one of the bedrooms)

Three of the bedrooms boast en-suites, with an additional family bathroom in the property (pictured)

Three of the bedrooms boast en-suites, with an additional family bathroom in the property (pictured) 

The home is also perfect for hosting guests al-fresco anytime of night or day with a copious amount of outdoor seating

The home is also perfect for hosting guests al-fresco anytime of night or day with a copious amount of outdoor seating

Its outdoor kitchen and sunken fire pit makes it a picturesque place to spend your summer nights

Its outdoor kitchen and sunken fire pit makes it a picturesque place to spend your summer nights

Thanks to the coastal path, the property is within walking distance to a myriad of stunning beaches including Maenporth, Swanpool and the quieter Nansidwell. 

The house is conveniently located just 3.5 miles from the historic town and port of Falmouth. 

Conveniently only 3.5 miles away from the port of Falmouth, there is plenty to do in the surrounding area, from cruising in the Helford River or River Fai to taking up golf in one of the many nearby courses. 

River and sea fishing, other water sports such as windsurfing and water skiing on the Helford Passage and in Falmouth Bay are also popular activities to do in the area. 

It is also a great location to explore the coves of the Lizard Peninsula.

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