921集集大地震特輯——浩劫後......

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1999 / 10月

文‧陳淑美



民國八十八年九月二十一日凌晨一時四十七分,台灣發生本世紀以來最嚴重的地震,兩千多人在瓦礫堆中失去了生命,數萬人在轟然巨響中失去了原本幸福溫暖 的家園。

災變之後,台灣的民眾不分男女老少,不分黨派族群,相互顧念彼此安危,出錢出力,相互扶持,展現最珍貴的生命價值。

災後重建,需要理性沈靜的反省,在這場百年難見的大地震中,我們失去了珍貴的生命、無可計數的財物損失,山河已碎,樂園不再,然 而,我們學到了什麼?

九月二十一日凌晨一時四十七分,當台灣大多數民眾還在睡夢之中,一場規模七•三的大地震發生,直至二十九日發稿為止,有一萬多人在這場災變中傷亡,其中死亡人數 超過兩千, 上萬間房屋倒塌。大地震也造成全台公路柔腸寸斷、鐵路交通受阻,二十一座糧倉倒塌、一萬五千多噸 稻穀流失。產業界的損失更難以估計,全省五十三個工業區全面停擺,僅新竹科 學園區廠商便損失超過百億台幣,整體國力的斲傷難以估計。

哀鴻遍野,地貌遽變

台灣位於環太平洋地震帶,原是全世界六個最容易發生地震的地區之一。此次地震的深度只離地表一公里,是地質學上所謂的「淺層地震」。「就像一枚能量極高的炸彈在接近地表之 處引爆,」專家形容。相較於過去幾次大地震,如民國二十四年新竹、台中大地震將地面擠壓隆起三公尺的情況,這次的集集大地震,最大垂直位移達五公尺,再加上併同的水平位 移,造成強震超過以往。專家估計,它的威力兩倍大於一九九五年在日本發生的阪神大地震。

集集大地震的威力還不僅二十一日當天的主震威力,中央氣象局估計,從二十一到二十七 日,台灣全島連續六天的餘震次數近八千次,超過六級以上的強烈餘震有八次,「合起來的威 力超過二十五顆原子彈」,是本世紀以來台灣所遭逢規模最大的地震。

中央大學地球物理研究所教授王乾盈指出,「九二一集集大地震」起因於台灣中部大茅埔──雙冬斷層的推擠,進而帶動西側平行的車籠埔斷 層劇烈抬升,位於斷層帶上的台中縣東 勢、豐原、大里、霧峰等地以及震央附近的南投縣埔里、竹山、名間、中寮等地全被震得山河破碎。強大的震力也 重挫全台各地。台北縣市、苗栗、彰化、雲林、台南等地紛紛傳出災 情,可說除了東部、高雄之外,全台均在此次大地震中受到重創。

此次地震災情最重的首推震央所在的南投及斷層所經的中部地區。在南投國姓鄉九份二 山的東側,標高一千一百七十四公尺的九份二山在崩下數以萬噸的土石流後,露出光禿禿的大面 斜壁,原先是溪谷的韭菜湖溪則被大量的土石阻斷,變成一處小湖。原先山頭翠綠的草屯鎮九九峰震成了光禿禿的山頭。著名觀光勝地日月潭的景觀走樣,舊的天蘆飯店被夷為平地, 光華島半邊沒入湖中,一分為二。

山川都被震得變色,更何況血肉之軀?南投及台中居民的慘狀可以「人間煉獄」形容。在南投國姓鄉南港村的九份二山塌陷最深達一百公尺,至少有四十名村民遭到活埋。在中寮鄉全 鄉建築有九成以上受損,才兩、三萬人的村莊共一百五十四人死亡,許多家庭都是全家罹難,「強震比戰爭更可怕」是中寮人的心情。

在埔里、竹山等地「房屋跪在路邊,四周都是死路,鎮民露宿操場,埔里街頭一夕之間多了許多孤兒,」聯合報現場報導形容。以產紹興酒著稱的埔里酒廠爆炸、中橫公路扭曲變 形。 在台中縣東勢鎮,許多樓房一整排被削平,靠山的房子隨著土石坍方僅剩一片廢土,罹難者高達四百五十一人。在霧峰,才花一億經費整修完畢的霧峰林家宅園下厝宮保第被夷為平 地。在大里市,有多棟十餘層高樓應聲而倒,現場斷垣殘壁,民眾哀嚎聲四起。

「走山」帶來土石流,也使得中部山區的地貌遽變。在嘉義、雲林交界的清水溪上游,兩座山脈 互相推擠,阻斷了清水溪的流向,形成一個三十公頃的草嶺潭,且因潭水高漲,隨時有 潰堤的危險,軍方下令居民疏散。供應大台中地區主要水源的中縣石岡水壩也因地震持續崩塌下陷,連坐有大佛的彰化八卦山,也有位移現象。

老闆減料我偷工?

近年台灣都會高樓櫛比鱗次,此次震災也震垮不少被列為「地標」的名門大樓。這些大樓在強震來襲時,有的像積木般的傾倒一邊,有的直沈地底,傷亡動輒上百。「建築法防震門檻 過低」、「營建工人敬業精神不夠」等議論紛紛傳出。還有民眾質疑,看來金玉其外的高樓在大地震中毫無避震能力,反成殺人元凶,這是天災還是人禍,建築商得要有所交代。

目前倒塌的許多大樓起造人已被檢方收押,倒塌原因也正在調查中,但建築專家初步勘驗,大樓倒塌原因與建築設計未考慮防震結構,工人不敬業的「偷工」,及建商只知牟利、 大量 「減料」都難脫關係。連參與救難工作七、八天的日本救難人員也提出:「台灣建築為何牆薄、地板厚,不但支撐不夠,傾倒時殺傷力更大!」

以斗六「漢記大樓」為例,根據雲林科技大學營建工程系蘇南博士的初步勘驗,該棟建築的一樓中庭挑高為公共空間,牆壁很少、開窗很多,外牆又未 設補強的「剪力牆」,而且柱的 箍筋量不足,樑柱過淺,柱斷面過小,形成建築物的耐震力不足,再加上混凝土疑似添加過多飛灰,品質不 良,樑柱接頭處的樑鋼筋深入柱的錨定長度不足,這都使得地震一來,樑柱 混凝土容易被壓碎及剪斷,釀成大災。

台中縣豐原市向陽永照大樓、東勢鎮東勢王朝等倒塌大樓,破損的樑柱內發現了大批空的沙拉油、油漆鐵桶填塞,這種「奇觀」不 但令人懷疑是否為肇事元凶,還立刻上了國際新聞版 面,讓全世界都不禁質疑,台灣建築業之工作倫理與專業知識何在,政府法規又有何約束力。

震出救災體系大問題

「九二一集集大地震」也震出了救災體系難以統合、朝野防災觀念不足的問題。

震災之後不到二十分鐘,內政部消防署便成立中央防救中心,行政院蕭萬長院長隨後並召開記者會,指示軍方加入救災,並呼籲國人保持鎮定,小心餘震帶來二次傷害。二十一日,行 政院並在埔里成立中央災害防治中心前進指揮所,並提出發放每位罹難者五十萬元(後增加為一百萬元)、房屋全倒者二十萬元、半倒者十萬元的救助金等十五項協助災後重建的方 案。二十二日,行政院也在省府所在的中興新村成立「九二一地震救災督導中心」,由副總統連戰擔任中心負責人,協調中央與地方權責劃分, 期使各項救災事務順利展開。

各部會災後重建方案也陸續推出,為了安置流離失所的災民,財政部將以公告價格的七成釋出四千四百多戶國宅,對於已毀損住屋的貸款,銀行則提供本金展期五年、利率減碼等優惠 措施。另外,各縣市政府也已在尋找公有地,在災區附近興建臨時住宅,讓災民在家園重建前,能有暫時棲身之所。中央銀行也決定提撥一千億資金,讓受災民眾辦理購屋、住宅重建 及修繕貸款,幫民眾度過難關。

為便利重建工作順利推行,二十五日晚上,總統並針對地震的救援與復建發布「限時、限區、限內容」的緊急命令,打破現行法令限制, 從籌措財源、證件發給到災區都市更新等工 作,皆可簡化行政程序,儘速展開重建。

但是,政府救災工作卻遭到民眾「不知道政府作了什麼」的質疑,主要的原因在災區指揮系統 未見整合。

救災的第一步是要先確定災變的範圍與規模,以及可以動員的人力、物力,該從何 處動員等。可是在災變過後最重要的兩三天內,由於交通阻隔、電訊受創,哪些是受災範圍?範圍內 有哪些道路受損?哪些地區可能有傷亡,傷亡如何?中央防救中心並未掌握整體情況,這使得災變過後的一兩天,許多自願 參加救援的醫師及國內外救援團體在前往災區時,卻因為道 路資訊不足而折返繞路,延誤救災時間。

重建家園

民眾對災變危機處理觀念不足,也妨礙在最重要七十二小時的搶救。

災變的第一天,台北所有廣播電台均忙著請災區內聽眾及觀眾告訴大家災情,讓災區少數能通話的通訊管道完全被佔用;到了下午,南投及台中縣外的親朋好友忙 著驅車湧入災區,加 上救災車輛未經有效地安排規劃,將災區少數對外的道路塞住,災區內的救護車甚至 很難將傷患送出。

災區資源如何統合也是一大問題。民間救濟物資大量注入災區,一車車載滿泡麵、礦泉水、乾糧、睡袋、棉被等物資的車輛及醫療救難人員 大批進入災區,卻也因為救災資源的調度缺 乏統合,造成有的災區物資過剩,有的災區空等救援的情況。不少設備精良的國際救援團體開拔到災區,在資訊不足的情況下自己找去處,甚至五、六個團隊趕赴同一受災地點,形 成 資源浪費。

在這場百年大地震中,最令人感動的是全民資源的挹注。災變之後,民眾儘管驚懼恐慌,但沒有 趁勢偷搶的治安事件,男女老少相互扶持、爭相捐款、捐血、捐物質挹注災區居民,媒 體深入前線,不眠不休地傳回訊息,建立公共救援管道;來自美、日、德、俄羅斯、韓國及土耳其等二十一個國家的國際救援團體、國內警消、軍方、宗教民間團體不顧危難,深入災 地救援,為悲慘的災變,寫下人性昇華的一面。

百年難見的集集大地震尚未落幕,直至發稿前,在斷垣殘壁中,在幾成焦土的瓦礫堆中,還有許多生 死未明民眾在努力掙扎等待救援,對不幸罹難的兩千多名同胞,我們獻上最深沈的 哀思,對還在死亡邊緣掙扎的受困民眾,我們則寄予無限的祝禱。

往者已矣,來者可追,我們希望同胞的傷亡能喚醒台灣民眾幾近無知的危機意識。經由這次災變,政府應徹底檢討救災體 系應變不足的問題,在相關法規中加入更嚴謹的防震法條,對 建築物、公路橋樑等進行耐震檢測、補強,民眾也應正視台灣位於地震帶的事實,如日本在阪神大地震之後,無論老少,在家均備有裝著「手電筒、礦泉水、乾糧」的救命小包,居 安 思危以減少傷亡。

除了無盡的哀思報協助與無限的熱情,浩劫後「重生」,需要的更是集體智慧和堅持。

災情重大縣市傷亡統計

地區

死亡人數(人)

受傷送醫

房屋全倒(棟)

房屋半倒(棟)

南投縣

807

2441

4191

3509

台中縣

988

3606

2175

1208

台中市

113

1112

496

516

台北市

58

309

3

24

雲林縣

53

399

226

187

台北縣

37

145

1

2

全台地區

2087

8711

7274

5696


受創大樓重大災情表 (9月29日止)

資料來源.內政部消防署、台中縣市消防局、雲林縣、彰化縣消防局
製表.陳淑美

地  點 樓  層 受損狀態 傷亡人數
台北松山 東星大樓

12樓

下陷傾倒

死亡72人 26人埋困
北縣新莊 博士的家

12樓

筆直倒塌

死亡39人 7人埋困
北縣新莊 龍閣社區

11樓

塌  陷

死亡 1人
中縣豐原 向陽永照大樓

12樓

下陷傾倒

死亡41人
中縣豐原 新高大樓

8樓

傾  斜

死亡 5人
中縣東勢 東勢王朝

14樓

下陷傾倒

死亡15人 16人埋困
中縣大里 金巴黎

11樓

傾斜倒塌

死亡54人 4人埋困
中縣大里 台中王朝

11樓

傾斜倒塌

死亡23人 7人埋困
中縣大里 台中奇蹟

11樓

傾斜倒塌

死亡18人 1人埋困
台中市  德昌新世界

14樓

塌  陷

死亡 4人
彰化員林 龍邦大樓

16樓

下陷傾斜

死亡19人 9人埋困
雲林斗六 中山國寶

12樓

下陷傾斜

死亡14人 3人埋困
雲林斗六 觀邸大樓

16樓

下陷傾倒

死亡 9人 8人埋困
雲林斗六 玉山銀行大樓

10樓

傾  斜

無人傷亡

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近期文章

EN

Disaster Strikes. . . .

Jackie Chen /tr. by David Mayer


At 1:47 a.m. on September 21, 1999, Taiwan was hit by its most powerful earthquake in 100 years. Over 2,000 people died, and tens of thousands lost their homes. After the quake, everyone put aside political and social divisions and came to each other's aid, volunteering money and services. With lives on the line, we have shown where our priorities lie.

As we work to recover from the disaster, we must take a hard look at how well we have responded to the emergency. Many precious lives have been cut short, and property losses are virtually incalculable. What have we learned from the experience?

Most people in Taiwan were asleep at 1:47 on the morning of September 21 when the island was hit by an earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale. By the time Sinorama went to press on September 29, the quake had caused over 10,000 casualties, including more than 2,000 deaths. Over 10,000 homes had collapsed. Roads throughout much of Taiwan were rendered impassable and rail traffic was disrupted. Twenty-one grain silos burst, spilling over 15,000 tons of unhusked rice onto the ground. Losses in the industrial sector have been astronomical, with operations grinding to a halt at 53 industrial parks across the island. Firms at the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park alone lost more than NT$10 billion, and total losses across the island will never be known for certain.

Cries of anguish

Taiwan is one of the six most earthquake-prone areas in the world. The quake of September 21 occurred just one kilometer from the earth's surface, and geologists would thus categorize it as a "shallow earthquake." According to experts, "It's like exploding an extremely powerful bomb just below the surface of the earth." Shallow earthquakes have a greater impact near the epicenter than deeper ones do. The big earthquake that hit the counties of Hsinchu and Taichung in 1935, for example, raised the earth in some places by as much as three meters, but last week's earthquake in the township of Chichi lifted the ground five meters in some places. This earthquake resulted in greater vertical and lateral displacement than we have seen in the past. Experts estimate that the destructive power of the Chichi earthquake was double that of the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan.

The Central Weather Bureau estimates that the main quake in the wee hours of September 21 has been followed by nearly 8,000 aftershocks as of September 27, with eight of these registering 6 or greater on the Richter scale. The combined force of all the tremors has exceeded that of 25 atomic bombs, thus making this the largest earthquake of the century in Taiwan.

According to Wang Chien-ying, a professor of geophysics at National Central University, the Chichi earthquake, as it has come to be known in Taiwan, started along the Tamaopu and Shuangtung fault lines, both of which are located in central Taiwan. This activity subsequently triggered a violent upward thrust along the Chelungpu fault line, which lies parallel and to the west of the other two fault lines. The greatest destruction occurred in Taichung County along the fault lines (in Tungshih, Fengyuan, Tali, and Wufeng) and Nantou County near the epicenter (in Puli, Chushan, Mingchien, and Chungliao). The quake actually changed the shape of mountains and the course of streams in these places, and it also wreaked extensive damage upon buildings and other structures throughout most of Taiwan, with numerous damage reports coming in from the counties of Taipei, Miaoli, Changhua, Yunlin, and Tainan. The only areas to escape without major damage were eastern Taiwan and Kaohsiung.

The quake triggered a massive landslide on the eastern face of Chiufen Mountain #2, a 1,174-meter peak near Kuohsing township in Nantou County, turning a once-verdant mountainside into a barren escarpment. The landslide dammed a creek and resulted in the formation of a small lake. The once-verdant Mt. Chiuchiu in Tsaotun township now looks more like a lunar landscape. The famous tourist destination of Sun Moon Lake has not been spared either-the venerable Tienlu Hotel was flattened, and Kuanghua Island was split in two when part of it sank into the lake.

When the earth itself cannot withstand the force of a quake, one can well imagine the danger to fragile humans. In Taichung and Nantou counties, cries of grief continue to echo everywhere. The landslide on Chiufen Mountain #2 gouged as much as 100 meters from the mountainside, leaving at least 40 people buried alive in the village of Nankang. In the township of Chungliao, over 90% of all buildings sustained damage. Out of a population of no more than 20-30 thousand, fully 154 people died, with some families wiped out entirely. Anyone in Chungliao would agree that a big earthquake is more frightening even than war. In Puli and Chushan, the United Daily News reports: "Survivors are completely cut off from the outside world because fallen buildings block every single road leading out of town. Everyone is camping out in school playgrounds, and many children in town have become orphans." A huge explosion and fire occurred at the brewery in Puli, famous for its shaoxing rice wine, and the Central Cross-island Highway is badly damaged. In the township of Tungshih, Taichung County, entire rows of buildings have been razed, while houses located near the mountains have been obliterated by landslides. The death toll there stands at 451. In Wufeng, part of the Lin gardens, recently renovated at a cost of NT$100 million, has been demolished. In the city of Tali, several buildings over ten stories tall have collapsed, and survivors wail inconsolably amidst the rubble.

The mountains of central Taiwan have been disfigured dramatically. Near the borders of Yunlin and Chiayi counties, landslides on two adjacent mountains have blocked a creek and created a 30-hectare barrier lake. Because the rising lake threatens to burst its dam, military authorities have ordered residents below the new lake to evacuate the area. Shihkang Dam, the main source of water for Taichung County, has been badly breached. In Changhua County, Pakua Mountain (famous for its enormous Buddha) has been measurably displaced.

Shoddy construction

High-rise buildings have been popping up all over Taiwan in recent years, but across the island many well-known structures regarded as local landmarks were destroyed in the recent earthquake. Some fell over like building blocks, while others collapsed into their basements. In many cases, injuries and deaths have numbered over 100, and a chorus of complaints has arisen: "Building codes aren't strict enough." "Construction workers don't care enough about doing quality work." Some note that many fancy-looking buildings were totally vulnerable to the earthquake. They ask pointedly whether the deaths that these buildings have caused should be considered an act of God or a man-made disaster, and have demanded that construction companies take responsibility for their mistakes and misdeeds.

In fact, many construction company executives have already been taken into custody in connection with the collapse of several buildings. Investigations are still in progress, but construction experts have tentatively concluded on the basis of preliminary inspections that the problem almost certainly entails: (1) architectural designs that failed to provide for adequate earthquake resistance; (2) shortcuts taken by workers in the course of construction work; and (3) flagrant use of substandard materials by construction firms interested only in making a quick profit. Japanese rescue workers who have now been in Taiwan for seven or eight days exclaim: "Why are the walls so thin yet the floors so thick in the buildings here? That increases the likelihood of collapse, and makes it more deadly when it does occur."

The Hanchi Building in Touliu City is a good case in point. It has been examined by Dr. Su Nan, a professor of construction engineering at National Yunlin University of Science and Technology, and the professor's preliminary inspection indicates serious problems with the building's tall entryway, which had very few walls, many windows, and outer walls that lacked necessary reinforcement. In addition, the columns didn't have enough steel reinforcement bars, the reinforcement bars were not tied together properly, and the cross-section of the columns was too small. As a result, the building was not sufficiently earthquake-resistant. There were other problems as well. It appears that too much fly ash had been mixed into the concrete, and the steel reinforcing rods in the beams were not anchored deeply enough in the columns. When the earthquake hit, these factors made it easier for the concrete in the columns and beams to crumble.

In at least three buildings in Taichung County, empty salad oil drums and paint cans have been discovered inside damaged columns. One cannot help but suspect that these construction practices may have been the cause of deaths, and when the news was reported abroad it caused the entire world to wonder about the ethics and competence of Taiwanese construction firms, and to question the effectiveness of our government regulations.

Lack of preparedness is exposed

The Chichi earthquake has brought to light a serious lack of coordination in Taiwan's disaster response system as well as insufficient understanding about disaster preparedness both within the government and without.

Within 20 minutes after the quake, the Ministry of the Interior's National Fire Administration had established the "emergency management center," and Premier Vincent Siew soon thereafter held a news conference at which he ordered the military forces to take part in rescue efforts. He further called upon the public to remain calm and stay on guard against aftershocks. Still in the early morning hours of September 21, the Executive Yuan established the "disaster response center" in Puli and announced 15 measures aimed at assisting efforts to rebuild from the quake. These measures included a decision to use funds from the postal savings system to provide NT$500,000 (later doubled to NT$100 million) to the family of every person who died in the earthquake, NT$200,000 to every family whose home had totally collapsed, and NT$150,000 to every family whose home had partially collapsed. On September 22, the Executive Yuan established the "center for coordination of earthquake rescue operations" in Chunghsing Village, the seat of Taiwan's provincial government. This center, which is headed by Vice-President Lien Chan, is responsible for coordinating the disaster response measures of the central and provincial governments.

The cabinet-level ministries and agencies have all taken measures to deal with the disaster. The Ministry of Finance, for example, has announced plans to sell over 4,400 units of public housing at 70% of the official price to people who have lost their homes. In addition, banks making housing loans will extend the repayment period by five years and reduce interest rates in order to help people get through this difficult crisis. In addition, county and city governments are looking for publicly owned land where they can build temporary housing that will afford people a place to stay until their homes can be rebuilt. The Central Bank of China has also decided to provide NT$100 billion in low-interest loans to help people buy new homes and rebuild or repair existing ones. .

In order to facilitate the rebuilding process, President Lee Teng-hui on the evening of September 25 issued a directive ordering government agencies to use simplified procedures in raising funds, reissuing personal documents lost in the disaster, and launching urban redevelopment projects in the earthquake-affected areas. The directive applies only "for a limited time, in specifically identified areas, and to specifically identified activities."

Nevertheless, the public has been sharply critical of the government's earthquake relief efforts, with many commenting: "You sure can't tell that the government has been doing anything!" The main problem has been a lack of coordination.

The first step in any disaster relief effort is to find out the scope and seriousness of the disaster, determine what human and material resources can be mobilized, decide where to deploy these resources, etc. Unfortunately, the government was not able to act effectively in the all-important first two to three days after the Chichi earthquake. Impassable roads and disrupted communications made it extremely difficult to obtain basic information-How widespread is the destruction? What roads have been damaged? Where might there be casualties? What types of casualties will we be seeing? Because the central government's "emergency management center" was unable to get a clear picture of the overall situation, many doctors and overseas disaster relief specialists who arrived in central Taiwan one and two days after the quake ended up wasting time on circuitous detours because they couldn't find out which roads were passable.

Rebuilding homes

Problems were compounded by ordinary citizens who got in the way of relief efforts during the first 72 hours. Every radio station in Taipei, for example, rushed reporters to the quake-stricken areas to interview local citizens, and they monopolized the few communication channels that remained in operation. By the afternoon of the first day, worried relatives and friends swarmed to Nantou and Taichung counties, where they combined with poorly deployed rescue vehicles to paralyze the few roads that remained intact.

The question of how to manage resources in the disaster area has also been a major headache. Donations have come pouring in by the truckload-instant noodles, mineral water, crackers, sleeping bags, blankets-and medical personnel have also swarmed to the area, but a lack of coordination has resulted in an excess of personnel and materiel in some areas and a complete lack in others. When well-equipped international rescue operations arrived at the disaster area, the lack of information forced many of them to set out on their own in search of victims. In some cases, five or six different rescue groups converged on a single site.

In one of the most moving aspects of the disaster, ordinary citizens have generously donated money and materials. Although the quake and its aftershocks have left people with severely jangled nerves, there has been no looting. People from all walks of life have freely donated money, blood, and other items to help the people in the disaster area, and members of the news media have worked around the clock to keep the public up to date on the situation. Official channels have also been established to route donations to where they are needed. Rescue teams from 21different countries (including America, Japan, Germany, Russia, Korea, and Turkey) have worked alongside local police, firemen, soldiers, and religious groups, risking their lives in an effort to save earthquake victims. Against a backdrop of tragedy and loss, these people have shown the heights that the human spirit is capable of reaching.

As Sinorama goes to press, many people remain trapped under the rubble, and it is unknown whether any of them remain alive at this point. We are deeply saddened by the deaths of more than 2,000 of our fellow human beings, and pray for the rescue of anyone who may still be alive and waiting to be rescued.

The only thing we can do now is put this sorrow behind us and look to the future. We hope that the casualties suffered will serve to awaken the people of Taiwan to the dangers we face. The government must take a hard look at the inadequacies of its disaster response system. Laws must be amended to provide for greater earthquake preparedness. Buildings, roads, and bridges must be inspected to determine whether they are strong enough to resist earthquakes, and when necessary they should be reinforced. The general public, for its part, must squarely face the fact that we live along an earthquake belt. After the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, people in Japan began keeping "disaster kits" (flashlights, mineral water, crackers, etc.) to be used in times of emergency, and we would do well do learn from their example.

In addition to giving our sympathy and support to earthquake victims, we will need to pool our collective wisdom and make a sustained effort if our compatriots are to rebuild their shattered lives. (Sinorama wishes to thank United Daily News, China Times, and Taiwan Daily News for their assistance with this report.)

Casualty figures for areas hardest hit by the earthquake

 

Dead

Injuries involving hospitalization

Totally collapsed buildings

Partially collapsed buildings

Nantou County

807

2441

4191

3509

Taichung County

988

3606

2175

1208

Taichung City

113

1112

496

516

Taipei City

58

309

3

24

Yunlin County

53

399

226

187

Taipei County

37

145

1

2

All of Taiwan

2087

8711

7274

5696


Buildings sustaining major damage (as of Sep. 29)

Sources: Ministry of the Interior, National Fire Administration; Fire departments of Taichung County, Taichung City, and Changhua County; Fire department of Yunlin County
Table by Jackie Chen

Location Height Nature of damage Casualties
Taipei City, Sungshan District: Tunghsing building

12 stories

Sank into basement, currently leaning

72 dead, 26 trapped
Taipei County, Hsinchuang: The Doctor's Home

12 stories

Fell over

39 dead, 7 trapped
Taipei County, Hsinchuang : Lungko apartments

11 stories

Collapsed into basement

1 dead
Taichung County, Fengyuan: Hsiangyang Yungchao building

12 stories

Collapsed into basement, currently leaning

41 dead
Taichung County, Fengyuan: Hsinkao building

8 stories

Currently leaning

5 dead
Taichung County, Tungshih: Tungshih Dynasty building

14 stories

Collapsed into basement and fell over

15 dead, 16 trapped
Taichung County, Tali: Golden Paris building

11 stories

Fell over

54 dead, 4 trapped
Taichung County, Tali: Taichung Dynasty building

11 stories

Collapsed into basement and fell over

23 dead, 7 trapped
Taichung County, Tali: Taichung Miracle building

11 stories

Fell over

18 dead, 1 trapped
Taichung City: Tehchang New World building

14 stories

Collapsed into basement

4 dead
Changhua County, Yuanlin: Lungpang building

16 stories

Collapsed into basement, currently leaning

19 dead, 9 trapped
Yunlin County, Touliu: Chungshan Kuopao building

12 stories

Collapsed into basement, now leaning

14 dead, 3 trapped
Yunlin County, Touliu: Kuanti building

16 stories

Collapsed into basement and fell over

9 dead, 8 trapped
Yunlin County, Touliu: E. Sun Bank building

10 stories

Leaning

No casualties
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