At Least 14 Killed in Taiwan Earthquake; FlyerTalk Member Reports From Near Epicenter

n earthquake with a magnitude of 6.4 shook the southern part of Taiwan approximately 17 miles northeast of the city of Pingtung at 3:57:27 early this morning, according to this information released from the United States Geological Survey.

At least 14 people died; 484 people were injured; and greater than 150 people are missing as a result of the Taiwan earthquake, according to this article written by Phil Helsel and Jillian Sederholm of NBC News. Additionally, at least nine buildings collapsed or buckled as a result of the earthquake, which also caused at least five buildings to “tilt at alarming angles.”

One of the deaths included a baby who was only ten days old and found in the arms of her dead father as a result of the earthquake, which occurred at the start of the Lunar New Year holiday, according to this article written by Faith Hung and Yimou Lee of Reuters.

First-Hand Reports From FlyerTalk Member

FlyerTalk member Skyman65 is based in Tainan — which is a city with a population of almost two million people and is located approximately 30 miles west northwest of the epicenter of the earthquake — and initially reported with the following information:

Reporting from Tainan. It was a strong shaker, for sure. Certainly got our attention at 4AM. We’re on the top floor of an 11F building, so we were given a nice ride.

But just to keep things in perspective…

As usual, the media is portraying widespread devastation as they vie for your eyeballs. But the reality is that the significant damage is limited to just a small handful of buildings with sub-par construction. The 17-story building that collapsed (and is the star of most news reports), had been officially listed as a “dangerous building” after the 921 earthquake in 1999. Yet the government did nothing about it other than telling people–you might not want to live here.

There is one other large building I’ve seen on the news that is leaning, but not collapsed. And I’ve heard reports of a handful of cracked walls, broken water/gas pipes, and shattered windows. But that’s about the extent of it. Damage is very localized, not widespread. Driving around town today, everything looks normal.

So, while I don’t wish to minimize the tragic losses suffered by the families who live in the damaged building, please don’t get the wrong idea that there is widespread damage in Tainan. There isn’t.

A second report was posted 35 minutes later from Skyman65:

Okay, perhaps I need to walk back some of my earlier comments. While we appear to been fortunate to escape any major damage at our building, I’m starting to see some photos from FB friends who were not so lucky.

While there doesn’t appear to be widespread damage around the city from the outside, there’s a lot more internal damage than I first realized. One friend posted picks of support pylons in his underground parking garage where much of the concrete has shattered away, and there’s just twisted rebar holding up the building. Scary stuff.

Travel Implications Should Be Minimal

“Just got off phone with some local family and friends”, reported FlyerTalk member dtsm. “Taipei and Taichung no impact. In fact, no shocks even felt in Taipei city.”

If your plans include Taiwan in the near future, you most likely will not be affected by the earthquake — but do keep in mind that aftershocks have occurred and may still continue; and a domino effect regarding ground transportation could result in delays and possible cancellations.

For example, FlyerTalk member lin821 posted the following travel advisory:

Transportation-wise, if you plan to take Taiwan High Speed Rail during this Lunar New Year, currently the services south of Taichung are partially suspended due to the impact. Taiwan High Speed Rail will announce at 21:00 tonight when & how it will resume its services after more thorough inspection of the damage. Since today is the beginning of the Lunar Chinese New Year holidays in Taiwan (Feb 6 thru Feb 14), more traffic nightmare is fully expected. If you are tourists, I would strongly recommend you to NOT take Taiwan High Speed Rail to save you the headache.

Summary

I am glad to learn that Skyman65 is safe and sound in Tainan; and I am thankful for that.

For further updates pertaining to this earthquake, one of the sources you may want to consider monitoring is this discussion posted on FlyerTalk.

In the meantime, my thoughts and prayers go out to the people who are dead, injured, missing and are otherwise adversely affected by the earthquake; as well as their family, friends and colleagues.

Source of map: United States Geological Society.

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