Dutchman (45) blindsided by a major earthquake in Taiwan: ‘Almost hit a bus’ | Abroad


with videoA 45-year-old Dutchman fell through the eye of a needle during the major earthquake in Taiwan on Wednesday morning. The man lost control of his car due to a serious jolt and almost crashed into a passing bus. “It was very intense. I have been used to earthquakes for 15 years, but it has never been this big and intense,” filmmaker Angelo Araya from Middelburg told this site.

Sebastiaan Quekel

April 3 2024

Latest update:

An earthquake struck off the coast of Taiwan early on Wednesday, making it the strongest in the region in 25 years, according to the country’s seismological agency. The number of deaths has now risen to nine, and at least 820 people were injured. According to authorities, more than a hundred people have been buried under rubble or completely isolated by fallen boulders. The rescue work is in full swing. A tsunami alert is still in effect.

Atmosphere is printed

Angelo, a Dutchman with a Taiwanese background, has lived in the capital Taipei since 2009, about 300 kilometers away from the epicenter of the earthquake. That sounds far away, but nevertheless he says he was completely overwhelmed by the force of the earthquake. “I was in the car with my wife. We were on our way to work. Suddenly it started shaking on the road. My car went from left to right. We almost crashed into a bus that was driving next to us.” According to Angelo, the lampposts, traffic signs and vehicles parked along the road moved ‘back and forth’. A surreal and frightening experience, he says.

The atmosphere in Taipei is depressed, says Angelo. Residents are concerned and fear that an even bigger earthquake is coming. According to the Dutchman, there have already been more than 70 aftershocks. Earthquakes in Taiwan are not that unusual, he says. “There are small to medium earthquakes every week. Sometimes you don’t even feel them. Especially if you have lived here for a while, you have already experienced a lot.” However, this earthquake was out of category, he says. “This has to be the worst I have experienced here.”

Once he arrives at the office, Angelo sees a lot of damage. There are deep cracks and holes in the wall and there are paintings and fallen glasses and bottles on the floor. “Fortunately we are otherwise okay. This is in contrast to other families who have lost everything or are buried under the rubble.” With the risk of aftershocks, the Dutchman will not sleep in the bedroom tonight, but on a mattress elsewhere in the house. That’s not a bad thing, he says. “But you suddenly realize that you live in one of the most active areas in the world where earthquakes occur.” At the end of April, Angelo returns to the Netherlands for ten days to visit family in Middelburg.

Tourists died

In eastern Taiwan there is more damage and, above all, unrest among residents. Connections along the east coast are blocked by rocks in many places. Taiwanese media report that ships are being deployed to reach isolated areas or places along the coast. An attempt is also being made to make a railway usable again by Thursday at the latest. At least four of the victims who died were tourists on a path along a coastal road or in a nature park on the east coast.

Among those trapped were also two German tourists who became trapped in a tunnel by crumbling rocks in the Taroko nature park. The two have now been freed, the German newspaper reported Image. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has no indications yet that there are Dutch victims.

How powerful?

The earthquake struck at just before 8 a.m. local time (2 a.m. Dutch time) and was felt throughout Taiwan and the surrounding islands. The Taiwan Meteorological Institute reported an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2. The Japan Meteorological Institute initially reported a magnitude of 7.5, but later adjusted this to 7.7. The epicenter of the quake was at a depth of 15.5 kilometers.

Buildings collapsed and damaged in the city of Hualien. Public transport has been shut down in various places on the island, which has a population of 23 million.

Tsunami warning

A tsunami warning was issued for Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines, but has already been withdrawn for the last two countries. A small tsunami already reached the Japanese islands of Yonaguni and Ishigaki in Yonaguni Prefecture. Authorities warn of waves of three meters or higher.

Taiwanese chip manufacturer TSMC has evacuated its business premises as a precaution. Residents of Taiwan are without power in several places, but there are no large-scale power outages.


Japan is prepared to provide assistance after the earthquake, Prime Minister Kishida said on X. He says he is heartbroken by the news.

China also offered Taiwan assistance in the rescue efforts on Wednesday morning, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Taiwan Affairs Bureau said. It is not yet clear whether Taiwan will accept the aid. Relations between the two countries are tense as China views Taiwan as part of its territory.

In September 1999, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake killed as many as 2,400 people in Taiwan.

Damage in Hualien © AFP

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A building in Hualien city leans after the earthquake. © AFP
A building partially collapsed during an earthquake in eastern Taiwan.
A building partially collapsed during an earthquake in eastern Taiwan. © AP
Emergency workers in New Taipei City.
Emergency workers in New Taipei City. © AFP

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