Taiwan Earthquake: 'The Buildings Trembled but People Remained Calm'

I was in hostel dorm when Taiwan was hit by the strongest earthquake in 25 years.

My Report
4 min read
Hindi Female

Wednesday morning's rush hour was like any other regular day. I was in my university dormitory and getting ready to go to my university when I suddenly realised it was an earthquake and received an emergency alert instantly. Like any other earthquake, I first tried to ignore it, but then I felt the most traumatising experience ever.

This proved to be Taiwan's most powerful earthquake in 25 years. Later, I scrolled the web and saw the damage it caused to buildings and highways, along with reports of minor casualties. The earthquake's epicentre was located in Hualien County along Taiwan's eastern coastline, where earthquakes typically occur. 


Several buildings in Hualien County sustained damage, with a few partially collapsing. The horrific videos on the internet showed that some buildings had partially collapsed and people were being rescued.

The immediate earthquake rescue mission has commenced along the eastern coastline, where the impact was most severe. The aftershocks continued, with magnitudes ranging from 6.5 to 7 on Richter scale and are expected to be felt for the next 3-4 days.

After hearing the news about the Taiwan earthquake, I received worried calls and texts from my family and friends. Earlier, I used to get calls about whether China would attack Taiwan, but today, the topic of discussion was the earthquake!!

Taiwan’s Earthquake History

Taiwan has a history of frequent earthquakes, with major ones occurring approximately every three months and minor ones occurring monthly. I have encountered at least 10 earthquakes in my two years living in Taiwan.

The last significant quake before today's event occurred on 21 September 1999, known as the '921 earthquake,' which registered a magnitude of 7.3 on the Richter scale.

This event resulted in numerous building collapses and casualties. I learned this from my Taiwanese friends; they were in their kindergarten when it happened, and they all said they were traumatised for many days after that earthquake. 

This emergency alert system is a game-changer for uncertain disasters. Taiwan boasts one of the world's most effective emergency alert systems, which delivers warnings for earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones, and even missile alerts from China directly to users' phones via the Cell Broadcast Service (CBS).


This system ensures that users receive alerts within seconds, even during network congestion, which is crucial during events like today's earthquake, where every second counts. 

I was in hostel dorm when Taiwan was hit by the strongest earthquake in 25 years.

Here's the emergency alert message I received for today's earthquake in Taiwan.  

(Photo credit: Saurav Dangar)

Additionally, the Taiwanese government educates citizens from a young age about the necessary standard operating procedures (SOPs) to follow during emergencies such as fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones, and missile attacks to avoid getting injured during these situations.

All of my Taiwanese friends have knowledge of SOPs to be followed in these situations. In fact, during the school years, they even had emergency drills to practice such disasters.

I was guided by my Taiwanese roommate to avoid crammed rooms as heavy objects might fall onto us during an earthquake and also to take the stairs instead of an elevator to go out of the building, and hence, I managed to prevent such a catastrophic event.

This proactive approach likely contributed to the lack of panic among Taiwanese citizens today, as they could calmly follow established SOPs, ultimately preventing injuries and casualties. 


People Were Calm During The Earthquake

I live in a relatively 40-year-old high-rise dormitory building on 11 floors, and I live on the top floor. I was inside the building when the earthquake struck, and the building was trembling from inside.

But, I was surprised to see it can withstand even a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, and there's not even a single crack in the entire building. Buildings constructed in Taiwan incorporate earthquake prevention materials and designs.

This is why, despite the earthquake measuring 7.2 magnitude, there were very few instances of old buildings partially collapsing, thus minimising human loss. 

One of the most remarkable observations I made today was the calm demeanour of the Taiwanese public following such a catastrophic earthquake.

People were leaving their homes for work, and students were heading to their schools and universities without displaying signs of panic. Considering the magnitude of the disaster, I thought we would at least get a public holiday for the day, but to my surprise, it was treated just like any other regular day.

Even amidst noticeable aftershocks, they felt comfortable using public transportation, such as trains and the metro. Their confidence in the resilience of public transportation to withstand a 7.2 magnitude earthquake was evident. 
I was in hostel dorm when Taiwan was hit by the strongest earthquake in 25 years.

I took a picture today after the earthquake, showing Taiwanese people using trains to reach their offices. 

(Photo credit: Saurav Dangar)

Another noteworthy incident is the rare occurrence of trains running significantly behind schedule, nearly one hour late, which is unusual in Taiwan. Typically, metros and trains experience no more than four-minute delays, and Taiwan's high-speed rail (known as the bullet train) is renowned for its punctuality down to the seconds.

Furthermore, passengers can obtain a certificate of late arrival from the train station, which is valid proof in Taiwanese offices. 

About the Author

I am Saurav Dangar, currently pursuing a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering at National Taiwan University. Having resided in Taipei, Taiwan, since 2021, I came to the country to pursue studies and delve into its advanced electronics industry. 

If anyone wishes to contact me, here are my social media accounts:  

Twitter: @SauravDangar  



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Topics:  Earthquake   Taiwan 

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