Singaporeans in Taiwan jolted by strong quake, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Singaporeans in Taiwan jolted by strong quake

Climbing enthusiasts Rachael Tay and her husband, Mr David Wilkins, were about to dig into their breakfast in northern Taiwan when a 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck.

Ms Tay, 54, said: “The whole cottage started to shake. It was pretty scary. Things like plates and cups started rattling.”

The Singaporeans were experiencing the earthquake that rocked Taiwan on the morning of April 3.

It is the strongest to hit the island in 25 years, killing at least seven, injuring dozens and triggering tsunami warnings for the territory, southern Japan and the Philippines.

The couple were on a rock-climbing trip, staying at the coastal town of Jinguashi. The tremor, which sent the cottage swaying, lasted about 10 seconds, according to Ms Tay.

The business director said: “We were looking at each other going, ‘Oh my goodness, what just happened?’ before scrambling to look for news.”

The earthquake struck at 7.58am.

Mere minutes later, the couple’s smartphones buzzed to life with an alert from the Taiwan government’s weather institution, which warned them to quickly evacuate to a shelter or higher ground as a tsunami could hit by 8.39am.

Ms Tay said: “We didn’t realise the severity of the earthquake until we followed the news and found out that this was the strongest earthquake since September 1999.”

In 1999, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake – the second deadliest in the island’s history – struck central Taiwan, killing about 2,400 people and injuring more than 10,000.

The quake with the highest death toll hit west Taiwan in 1935, claiming more than 3,000 lives.

Messages flooded in from the cottage’s host, concerned friends and loved ones, and the couple reassured them – along with their three daughters, who are in Singapore – that they were safe and were not going to climb that day.

Aftershocks continued to be felt by the pair, but they decided to stay put as utilities had not been affected, and their accommodation is 588m above sea level.

Mr Wilkins, 52, a consultant, said: “We have no clue whether the restaurants will still be open.”

Before the quake, he and his wife had been getting their meals from a nearby convenience store and seaside restaurants in the area.

The couple said they had never experienced an earthquake before in their seven years of rock climbing.

They plan to continue scaling the craggy faces of Long Dong – a stretch of sea cliffs running along the north-east shore of Taiwan – without cutting short their trip, which ends on April 6.

In Taipei, tech analyst Clarrence Leo, 26, was awoken when his bed started shaking vigorously.

The Singaporean, who is on holiday with two of his friends, added: “The electricity was cut off, and we immediately realised we should exit the building.

“We went down to find that many of the locals were already outside.”

Mr Leo, who was in the city’s outskirts on a day trip, said daily life in Taipei seemed unaffected, but he faced serious traffic congestion, which his taxi driver attributed to more people driving their cars due to train and bus delays.

Teacher Claire Chou, 29, who has been living in Taipei for about a year, said the impact – the biggest quake that she has felt – caused household items like wine and condiment bottles to drop and shatter on the ground.

The Singaporean, who was born in Taiwan and works remotely, said: “The quake was in the morning during peak hours, so some of my housemates couldn’t go to work on time.

“We were all waiting to see if work can be cancelled. Unfortunately, it’s a normal work day.”

Several Singapore celebrities in Taiwan, including actress Yvonne Lim and singer Tanya Chua, took to social media to air their surprise and confirm their safety.

Mediacorp actress Hong Huifang, who is in Taipei to shoot her next drama, posted on Instagram at about 8am that she was terrified by the quake and hoped everyone was safe.

She added that the team will continue shooting there.

On Instagram, Taiwanese actress-host Kate Pang, who is married to Singaporean actor Andie Chen, shared visuals of the havoc wrought by the earthquake on the couple’s home in Taiwan, which includes a cracked computer screen.

She wrote in Chinese in a post that she had been waiting in her car at a traffic light junction when her vehicle started vibrating as though it was spoilt.

She only realised that an earthquake had struck when she noticed an old building shaking, and ran the red light to flee the area.

Mrs Pang recalled: “Because I didn’t bring my mobile phone, I was very worried about my husband, who might have been home alone – whether the house had collapsed!

“After seeing that the streets looked the same, (I felt) the house should be fine.”