Shaking All Over: Two big quakes in one day

Two earthquakes hit Taiwan today.  The first was a 5.3 quake at 13:30 local time, about 60km from Hualien.  Building construction here has to meet a high standard, so it’s unlikely anyone was hurt.

The second came at 21:20 this evening, a 6.7 quake off the coast of Yilan, a city of 90,000. I checked google maps, and the epicentre was 61km from my home as the crow flies.  Although the fault lines here are convergent (two plates colliding), earthquakes over 7.0 are exceedingly rare.  The last major one I felt was a 6.4 on Hallowe’en 2013, when I was at work.

My biggest annoyance with this quake was my co-workers.  My desk at work is next to a large window pane, about five square metres in size.  As soon as I felt the quake start and knew it was significant, I got up and tried to move away.  Three co-workers were standing and gawking at everything moving, blocking my exit from the desk.  I didn’t yell “MOVE!” to hear the sound of my own voice.

There are no reports of damage in Taipei as of yet, despite an intensity rating of 4 (on a scale of 5).  I’ve been waiting for news from the east coast to write this (collapsed buildings, injuries, deaths), but none has come through.  That’s not necessarily a good thing, especially if communications were cut off.  Tonight’s earthquake happened at 21:20, so emergency workers will have to work all night in the dark.

In February 2018, a 6.4 earthquake hit Hualien on the east coast.  The Marshal Hotel “pancaked”, the bottom floor collapsing and killing two hotel employees.  It was actually fortunate that it happened in the middle of the night (despite making rescue efforts harder).  In the day, hundreds of people would have been in the lobby.

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A song, to lighten the mood after a scare: “Shakin’ All Over” was a hit for Johnny Kidd & The Pirates in 1960, their most well known song.


  1. kestrel says

    That is super scary. My parents used to live in Guam and there was an earthquake… it was the 1993 one of 7.8. The way my mother described it, she was sure she was going to die and wanted desperately to be next to my father but it was impossible for her to get there in time. I suppose you were “lucky” (for lack of a better term, definitely has no relation to luck) to have had the time to tell people to get out of your way. Yikes. I hope not too much damage was done and no lives were lost. Earthquakes are terrifying.