The Aftermath of Taiwan’s 921 Disaster: Anti-Earthquake Efforts

From Devastation to Resilience: Taiwan’s Response to the 1999 Earthquake

In 1999, Taiwan experienced a devastating earthquake that claimed the lives of over 2,400 people. This tragic event prompted the country to change its construction regulations and focus on strengthening buildings against vibrations. The earthquake had a magnitude of 7.4 and occurred in the eastern part of Taiwan, off the coast of the Hualien district. This was the strongest earthquake on the island in 25 years, with the previous major earthquake being the 7.6 magnitude Earthquake 921 in 1999.

Taiwan is one of the top 10 most earthquake-prone countries in the world, according to Standard & Poor’s. Since then, smaller earthquakes have occurred with fewer casualties. Taiwan has learned valuable lessons from past disasters and is now better prepared to prevent damage in the event of a similar large earthquake.

Following the 921 earthquake, there were calls for changes in building regulations and construction methods in Taiwan. The government reclassified earthquake zones, updated data, and added more buildings to strong earthquake zones. New regulations were introduced for high-rise building construction, focusing on quality control, earthquake resistance assessment, and building reinforcement measures.

Since then, many high-rise buildings in Taiwan only tilted instead of collapsing completely during an earthquake due to their design flaws or weak foundation systems. After identifying many buildings as vulnerable structures following the earthquake in 1999, the Taiwanese government initiated a plan to reinforce these buildings to increase their earthquake resistance. This plan included reinforcing public and private buildings, particularly schools through retrofitting them with stronger materials such as steel frames and concrete cores to ensure safety during an earthquake

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