One man died and another was hospitalised in a fire caused by a powerful quake off Taiwan that also set buildings shaking in the capital Taipei and sparked a short-lived tsunami warning in far southwestern Japan.

Japanese forecasters on Monday had warned the 6.6 magnitude earthquake could cause a tsunami as high as one metre affecting several islands in the Okinawa chain, but lifted the alert around an hour later, with no abnormal waves recorded.

No damage was reported in Japan, but a four-storey apartment building in part of New Taipei City caught ablaze after an electrical box outside the block exploded in the quake.

One elderly man who lived in the building "showed no signs of life" at the scene, the fire service said.

Another resident was hospitalised after choking in the blaze, local media reported.

The US Geological Survey said the quake, which Japanese authorities had originally put at 6.8, struck 71km east of Hualian, Taiwan at 01:43 GMT.

Japan sits at the confluence of four of the earth's tectonic plates and registers more than 20 percent of the planet's most powerful earthquakes every year.

More than 18,000 people were killed by a huge tsunami that smashed into the northeast coast in 2011 after a huge 9.0 magnitude earthquake.

Source: AFP