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'We need prayers': Pinoys share tragic experiences during Taiwan's 'strongest' earthquake in 25 years

By Yoniel Acebuche Published Apr 03, 2024 3:24 pm Updated Apr 03, 2024 5:53 pm

Taiwan was jolted by an earthquake on Wednesday with a 7.2 magnitude, marking the "strongest" tremor to hit the island in at least 25 years.

The earthquake brought down multiple buildings, triggering landslides, killed at least nine people, and left 800 injured, according to Taiwan's National Fire Agency. 

The US Geological Survey said that the quake hit at 7:58 a.m. in the south of Hualien city and at a depth of 34.8 kilometers (21 miles). It was followed by several strong aftershocks with tremors felt across the island.

No Filipino nationals were hurt in the earthquake, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) reported, but Pinoys were still left shaken by the disaster. 

'We need prayers'

Clariza Wang, a Pinoy residing in Keelung, Taiwan for four years after marrying her Taiwanese husband, told PhilSTAR L!fe that she was preparing her toddler to go to school when the quake suddenly happened. Her in-laws described it as the scariest earthquake they have felt. 

"No steps need to be followed since Taiwan always felt [earthquakes] but in my four years here and as for my Taiwanese in-laws, this is the scariest earthquake na nafeel nila."

"Still in trembling but we managed to calm ourselves sa malakas na lindol," she added.

The destruction after an aftershock in Wang's house

Wang added that some of the residents went back to their respective places after the tremor. However, they were reminded of a possible series of aftershocks.

"May mga aftershocks pa po but everyone is still alert sa mga posible pang mangyare," she told L!fe.

Even after Wang let her family in the Philippines know she was alright, they couldn't help but worry and ask if she could book a flight home. 

"They are so [worried] po and they [asked] if I can book a flight if maging [worse] pa ang situation, but I [calmed] them down first po since everything is alright now."

When asked what she needs right now, Wang said, "Pray, we need [prayers]. Praying [that there will be] no more aftershocks."

Meanwhile, Mary Grace Navera, a factory worker in the country currently residing in Taoyuan, a city near Taipei, shared about how they're still staying outside their dorms (as of writing) due to aftershocks.

"Ngayon nasa labas po kami ng dorm tumatambay ang lalakas padin po kasi ng aftershocks," she shared to L!fe.

"Sabi nila after 25 years ngayon na lang uli nangyari 'yung ganitong kalakas na lindol dito," she continued.

Mary Grace and her co-workers did a 'Duck, Cover and Hold' during the quake

Navera also said that the Taiwanese were used to experiencing earthquakes due to changes in their climate. 

"Ang mga Taiwanese naman po kasi sanay na sanay na naman po sila sa lindol kasi every nagchange yung klima dito, talagang naglilindol po pero ngayon sobrang lakas po talaga kaya sobrang daming napinsala ngayon."

The factory worker added that there were still some Pinoys who haven't been able to reach their families in the Philippines to let them know they're okay. "Mayroon pong nag-message sa'kin na tinatawagan niya yung kamag-anak niya pero hindi pa po nakocontact."

John Bangiba, a factory worker in Taiwan for almost five years, also shared with L!fe about his experiences during the quake.

"Kanina po habang kumakain, habang nangyayari po ang lindol, nagbagsakan ang mga bote buti ay 'di po ako nasugatan then tumawag po ako sa family ko lahat ng motor na naka parking ay nagkatumba-tumba po."

He continued, "Nag-evacuate po kami sa labas then after how many minutes pinapasok narin kami all goods naman na po kami lahat."

A spokesperson for Taiwan's Central Weather Administration alerted the locals that strong aftershocks with a maximum magnitude of 7 are predicted to occur through the end of the week.

Likewise, the weather agency said this is the strongest earthquake to hit Taiwan since 1999.

According to the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), there are 159,480 Filipinos in Taiwan, 150,666 of whom are overseas Filipino workers. The agency has also set up a help desk for family members of OFWs in Taiwan wanting to find out their status and condition.

Here are the 24/7 hotlines in the Philippines and Taiwan:

PHL: 8522-3663 / 8376-6352 / 8426-0833 / 8293-9155
Mobile: +63 919 067 3975

Taiwan: +886 932-218-057 (Taipei) / +886 988-976-596 (Kaohsiung) / +886 966-537-732 (Taichung)