top of page
  • Daniella Pacheco

Combating the Ring of Fire, Taiwan Remains Prepared in Light of Destructive Earthquake

HUALIEN CITY, TAIWAN- On April 3, 2024,  Taiwan was hit by a powerful earthquake, the strongest to hit the island nation in nearly a decade. Yet, despite destruction and devastation, Taiwan has remained steadfast in its preparedness and resilience in reducing the impact of the natural disaster. 

Rescue teams and authorities say nine people were killed during the earthquake, and over 1,000 people were injured. Although, most citizens have mentioned how much worse it could have been. 

"Similar-level earthquakes in other societies have killed far more people," said Daniel Aldrich, director of the Global Resilience Institute at Northeastern University.

According to the BBC, the 7.4-magnitude earthquake hit south of Hualien City and had an epicenter of 11 miles. However, the tremors caused by the quake could be felt more than 62 miles away in the capital, Taipei. This is not unusual as Taiwan is located on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," a series of volcanoes and earthquakes along the edges of the Pacific Ocean. 

Taiwan experiences over 2,000 small-scale earthquakes annually, with countless fault lines running underneath the island. Hualien City, located on the east coast, is especially vulnerable to quakes because it rests on some of the most prominent fault lines. 

Graph created by Daniella Pacheco

Recognizing its vulnerability, the Taiwanese government has made significant investments to prepare for disaster. Since the utter devastation of the 1999 earthquake, the government has implemented strict building codes and regulations to ensure structures can withstand the indifferent forces of nature.

One major component of Taiwan’s readiness efforts is its advanced early warning system. The new technology has given citizens and businesses crucial time to prepare themselves before the earthquake. The warning systems, developed by engineers and seismologists, heavily rely on a sensor network distributed throughout Taiwan to identify seismic activity. 

Upon the arrival of the earthquake, Taiwan's emergency responses hit the ground running. Within minutes, rescue teams were sent to the devastated areas. Responders began their search and rescue operations following the disaster's aftermath. Fortunately, due to their efforts, many lives were saved within the first hours after the earthquake.  

The effectiveness of the country's preparation was on full display, particularly in the sturdiness of its infrastructure. Over 300 aftershocks shook the island and caused buildings to sway and shake. By implementing steel rebar designs, reinforced concrete, updated regulation codes, and more substantial foundations, buildings that suffered incredible damage, remained enact enough for citizens to make an easy escape from the rubble. This success results from the years of upgrades designed to protect the island from natural disasters.  

With each earthquake comes new lessons about dealing with natural disasters. The lessons learned from the events of April 3 will provide insight for future efforts to enhance the country's ability to respond to and recover from disasters. Thanks to the government's alertness, Taiwan is actively forming the groundwork for a safer future by acting as a model for other vulnerable countries through its commitment to disaster resilience.  

By Daniella Pacheco

18 views0 comments


bottom of page