Daily Bloom is the shortform blog of New Bloom, covering breaking news events as they occur in real-time.
Earthquake strikes southern Taiwan in the early morning hours of Saturday, with Tainan being the hardest hit. The earthquake registered 6.4 on the Richter scale and was centered in Kaohsiung, with five aftershocks. At the time of writing, the death toll is seven and injuries number over 400, but will likely rise. Military and emergency rescue personnel have deployed to southern Taiwan. In particular, blood donations are urgently needed right now.
The collapse of the sixteen-story Weiguan Jinlong residential building in Tainan trapped over 120, who were later rescued. Several hundred have been rescued from collapsed buildings so far and it is feared that many others remain trapped, with twelve collapsed buildings in Tainan. Some have suggested that collapsed buildings as the Weiguan Jinlong building point to lack of adherence to safety standards by construction companies and that investigation into the matter is needed. That a ten day old newborn was the first casualty of the quake, pulled out of the rubble of the Weiguan Jinlong building, has provoked outrage.
High speed rail access has been cut off to southern Taiwan as a result of the quake. Seeing as this would normally be the peak travel time for Lunar New Year, this will cause severe disruptions for many returning for the holidays. Repairs have resulted in the restoration of some service from Taichung to Chiayi.
KMT and DPP alike have pledged donations and called for relief efforts, the DPP setting up a bank account for donations and the KMT caucus pledging a day’s salary to donations. Current president Ma Ying-Jeou flew to Tainan to oversee relief efforts and incoming president-elect Tsai Ing-Wen has donated one million NTD to relief efforts. Corporations Yulon Group and Acer have also donated substantial amounts, Yulon donating ten million NTD and Acer donating one million NTD.
Japanese netizens have been particularly vocal in calling for their country to come to Taiwan’s aid, recalling the substantial donations from Taiwan to Japan during the March 11th earthquake in 2011 that led to the Fukushima incident. In response, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered Japan’s aid to Taiwan. The Ma administration expressed gratitude and stated that it would accept Japanese aid, if needed. China’s Taiwan Affairs Office has also volunteered aid, pointing to how disaster relief becomes a politicized affair where foreign relations are concerned.
Facebook activated its safety check feature in response to the quake, allowing for individuals to alert friends and family that they are safe or for acquaintances to report that they are safe. g0v is coordinating information updates through crowdsourcing. But the situation remains a developing one.
Author: Brian Hioe
Photo Credit: Images circulating on social media
Brian Hioe (丘琦欣) is an M.A. student at Columbia University, a freelance writer on politics and social activism, and an occasional translator. He is a former resident of Taipei, Taiwan.