While there has been one reported casualty recorded thus far as a result of the magnitude 6.8 earthquake which struck the southeastern part of Taiwan yesterday–a T&T national living in the capital city of Taipei credited their level of preparedness in response to disasters as the main reason behind it.
The strong tremor which caused train carriages to become derailed; while an apartment building collapsed; and hundreds were trapped along mountain roads– followed a 6.4 magnitude earthquake on Saturday evening in the same area, which also caused no casualties.
In a Zoom interview with Guardian Media on Sunday, football coach Wayne Sheppard said he had been lying on the bed in his third-floor apartment when the earthquake occurred.
He recalled, “The earthquake today (yesterday) was very strong.”
“The walls were creaking and the entire building was shaking,” he added.
Referring to Saturday’s earthquake, he said while that one was also strong, it did not last as long as yesterday’s.
The US Geological Survey measured Sunday’s quake at a magnitude 7.2 and at a depth of 10 km or six miles.
Taiwan’s fire department rescued four people from the apartment building which house a convenience store that collapsed in Yuli, while three people whose vehicle fell off a damaged bridge were rescued and taken to hospital.
The Taiwan Railways Administration said six carriages came off the rails at Dongli station in eastern Taiwan, after part of the platform canopy collapsed, but the fire department said there were no injuries.
More than 600 people were trapped on the scenic Chike and Liushishi mountain areas by blocked roads, though there were no injuries.
The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a warning for Taiwan after the tremor but later lifted the alert.
Sheppard, who has been in Taiwan on a coaching contract since May 2021, is due to return to T&T when the season closes at the end of December.
Commenting on the building codes in Taiwan which had changed since the 1990’s, to ensure residential and commercial properties were as earthquake resistant as possible, he said added: “In terms of systems being in place, there is a warning system that actually alerts you of an impending earthquake.”
He said sensors buried in the earth usually triggered alarms and initiated mobile alerts so citizens do have a short window of opportunity to prepare and take action to protect themselves.
Sheppard said he did not receive any alerts in relation to the two earthquakes on the weekend.
However, he said he had received such notifications in the past, which “prepares me and puts me in state of knowing something is going to happen.”
Sheppard said T&T could learn from Taiwan which has a very robust alert system for natural disasters such as typhoons, earthquakes, and even black-outs.
“I think it is time T&T starts to use the technology available to make sure citizens are safe and informed,” he concluded.