Reporter describes strong earthquake in Taiwan | iRADIO

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An earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale hit Taiwan on Wednesday night. It left at least nine dead and more than 1,000 injured. According to local authorities, it was the strongest earthquake in the last 25 years. The city of Chua-lien in the east of the island was the most affected. The natural element in Taiwan was also experienced by the Radiožurnál reporter, who described the moments when the earth began to shake and what followed.



From a local reporter
Taipei
17:49 April 3, 2024

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The epicenter of the earthquake is near the city of Chua-lien | Photo: Haote Zhang | Source: Reuters

In the morning I was woken up by strange shaking and vibrations. While I was still half asleep, I got an alert on my cell phone. I honestly don’t know what to do first…

After a while, the chandelier started swinging, several bottles of cosmetics fell in the bathroom. “Is it a strong earthquake, or just the usual one that people here experience up to two hundred a year?” flashed through my mind. Intuitively, I moved closer to the staircase, which is supposed to be the strongest part of the house.

Outside, schools are still being evacuated. Some students hide under the desks behind the creaking windows.

There are subway stops in Taipei. People on an overhead line feel the tremors a bit like turbulence in an airplane. In several places in Taiwan, the chip giant TSMC also announces the evacuation of factories, without which a significant part of the world’s electronics cannot do.

Including the mobile phone on which I google the intensity of the earthquake. Over 7 degrees on the Richter scale. Memories from geomorphology classes say that’s a lot. But the depth also depends, and this earthquake was one of the deeper ones. Which is the better option. Meanwhile, the building calmed down again. Gradually, however, she is shaken a little more by milder aftershocks.

Consequences of an earthquake

Japan and the Philippines issue tsunami warnings. He later cancels it after another observation. Slightly higher waves will arrive on the coast of the southern Japanese islands. But they are not destructive.

In Taipei, people are returning to a more normal everyday pace. From the suburbs, photos of damaged homes and reports of a factory collapse in suburban New Taipei, with about 60 workers, are coming in. One is injured.

The tremors also damaged several local monuments. “Due to the earthquake, cracks were found on the surface of the Chuang Arch,” reads a sign near a taped stone gate in one of Taipei’s parks. “We ask the public to stay away from the arch to maintain safety.”

The high-speed railway connecting the densely populated west coast of the island will also temporarily stop.

A view of a damaged apartment in New Taipei City after the earthquake in Taiwan | Photo: Fabian Hamacher | Source: Reuters

The epicenter of the earthquake is on the opposite side near Hualien. One of the larger cities on the otherwise sparsely populated mountainous eastern coast of Taiwan by the Pacific Ocean. About a hundred kilometers from Taipei. People usually go there to Taroko National Park. For the rest of the day, I mainly follow the news from this area.

Rescue actions

A few collapsed buildings, others bent at a sharper angle to the street. Firefighters go to the scene and rescue the trapped people. They describe how their every movement further destabilizes the houses and threatens their collapse.

About 70 wreckers were trapped in two coal mines by the earthquake. In addition, there are dozens of tunnels on the highway and on the roads around the city. About 130 people will be stuck in them. Authorities lose contact with 50 tourists in several minibuses. Rescuers are trying to clear the debris. One bridge to the north of the city also fell, which is cut off for cars from that direction.

Authorities later announced that falling rocks in the mountains had killed three hikers on one of the trails through the majestic gorge there.

A partially collapsed building in the city of Hualien in eastern Taiwan


Taiwan has been hit by the strongest earthquake in 25 years. ‘I felt the movements of the building,’ describes the reporter

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Landslides and rockfalls also stopped trains. “Dozens of connections,” the worker at the counter at Taipei’s main train station shows me. Then he clasps his hands together and announces, “They say it could be running tomorrow. I hope… I wish…”

In the afternoon I speak with a local academic, Jolan Hsieh, who teaches in Chua-lin. He shows me a video of a school with black smoke rising from it. “Maybe something caught fire in the chemistry department labs during the tremors,” he guesses.

The last time was in 1999

The last such large-scale earthquake hit Taiwan in 1999. The epicenter was in the mountains of central Taiwan, in an area known, among other things, for its tea terraces, from which the quality type of oolong tea comes. About 2,400 people died in the disaster. Many of them from native tribes. Back then, they were still often not recognized by the state.

It was the earthquake, which also destroyed the mountain villages in which they lived, that led them to start fighting for recognition of their identity, Jolan explains to me. Originally, Taiwan recognized nine indigenous tribes, after the earthquake in 1999 their number increased to 16, and others continue to seek recognition.

Last month, the west coast of Turkey and the Greek island of Lesbos were hit by a magnitude 6 earthquake, which claimed one life on Lesbos.


A 5.7 magnitude earthquake struck Greece. Tremors were also felt in Crete and Athens

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Accident prevention

Things have also moved forward in the field of earthquake preparedness. The island, which lies at the interface of two lithospheric plates, and seismic activity is therefore not unusual here, has tightened building regulations in recent years. Even their enforcement. In schools and at work, people practice how to behave during an earthquake.

Alerts sent to mobiles connected to Taiwanese mobile networks also work. Although this time they did not arrive for everyone. And the government has received criticism on social media for this.

President-elect William Laj arrived in Hualien during the day. In front of the collapsed building, he says that the main priority is to save people. Outgoing President Tsai Jing-wen announces that the military will also help with rescue efforts. It will take weeks to clean up the aftermath. And the Taiwanese know that the earthquake in the country, which lies in the so-called Pacific Ocean Ring of Fire, is certainly not the last.

Jana Karasová

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