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A reporter in Taiwan describes an earthquake – 2024-04-03 18:32:11

The first weaker earthquake was in December 2022 when I fell asleep on the tenth floor of a hotel in the center of Taipei. Since then, I have experienced several in Taiwan. However, they cannot be compared to the strongest tremors in the last quarter of a century, which came suddenly on Wednesday morning, the Aktuálně.cz reporter writes directly from the Asian island.

From our correspondent in Taiwan – Earthquakes cannot be predicted, there is no warning message in advance that calls everyone to be alert. Therefore, when the earth began to shake just a few minutes before eight in the morning and I was eating breakfast on a bench on the university campus in Taipei, several thoughts crossed my mind: that my head was spinning, because it was already thirty again and I had not had anything to drink since morning, that I can feel the subway running deep below the surface.

However, as the seconds ticked by, the intensity of the tremors began to increase and I realized that I was experiencing an earthquake. In the last days and weeks, I felt several of them, but the epicenters were far away and their strength was not so strong. At most, the table swayed under my hands or the TV was knocked.

This time, the entire seven-story building I was sitting in front of started shaking. The earthquake was accompanied by the sound of glass crashing into window frames, structures knocking, panicked birds singing from nearby trees, and the feet of the few Taiwanese who were near me hitting the asphalt.

The fleeing locals, who at other times are very calm to the point of apathy, as they have been trained by provocations from the People’s Republic of China for many decades, finally snapped me out of my uncomprehending observation. I ran to a place where there was no danger of something falling on me.

Then it only took a few seconds for the first wave of tremors, reaching 7.7 degrees on the Richter scale at the epicenter near the city of Hualien on the east coast and 5 degrees in Taipei, 150 kilometers away, to stop. Since 1999, Taiwan has not experienced a stronger earthquake.

Taiwanese have been training for earthquakes since kindergarten

Taiwanese are used to earthquakes, as they experience an average of 221 earthquakes a year and have been training how to behave since kindergarten. I never acquired the knowledge of crisis behavior in the event of an earthquake. After the situation calmed down, I just finished my breakfast and headed to a nearby building for a Chinese lesson.

At first glance from the floor, there was no indication of disaster in the building, only a broken window on one floor. Subsequently, however, I encountered fleeing crowds. “Down! More shocks are coming,” a student from Thailand grabbed me and dragged me out of the building. “We had to hide under the benches and the fluorescent lights were falling, it was scary,” she explained as she ran down the stairs.

My colleagues from the course also confirmed this and pointed to their dirty pants as they hid under the table. What about the lecturers, did they know what to do? “I asked one and she said I should pray,” added the classmate.

Aftershocks will follow in the next few days

The aftershocks, the weaker earthquakes that follow the main one, did come. Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau counted nearly sixty of them of varying intensity. According to local reports, at least three more days will follow.

In the capital of the island, the subway temporarily stopped running because of this, one line of the elevated railway has visible cracks in it, according to local information. Almost ninety thousand people temporarily lost electricity throughout Taiwan.

The city of Hualien, which is a frequent epicenter of earthquakes, experienced the greatest damage. Several buildings collapsed there. So far, the authorities are talking about nine victims, more than a thousand people have been injured. The Czech Embassy in Taipei has no reports of wounded Czechs.

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