March 17

This Day in History

Disaster

Mar 17, 1906:

Earthquakes kill more than 1,200 in Taiwan

A powerful earthquake and a full day of aftershocks rock Taiwan on this day in 1906, killing over 1,200 people. This terrifying day of tremors destroyed several towns and caused millions of dollars in damages.

It was early on a Saturday morning when the first earthquake struck, due to a shift in the Chinsekiryo and Baishiku faults lying beneath the island of Formosa, as Taiwan was known at the time. Centered under the city of Kagi, the quake had a magnitude of 7.1 and was felt as far away as Japan, hundreds of miles to the north. Thousands of buildings all over the island were completely demolished by the tremor. The villages of Datiyo, Raishiko and Shinko were virtually wiped out. However, most of the casualties were suffered in Kagi, where a majority of the victims were crushed in the rubble of their homes. Strong aftershocks continued throughout the rest of the day, complicating the rescue effort.

Only a month and a day later, the huge 8.3 San Francisco earthquake rocked the North American coast across the Pacific Ocean from Taiwan. But it was the earthquakes just across the Taiwan Strait in mainland China in subsequent years that would prove to be among the most deadly in history. In 1927, approximately 200,000 people were killed in China by an earthquake that people in the West were barely aware of, as it occurred in the midst of Charles Lindbergh's solo Atlantic crossing. The next deadly earthquake in Taiwan came in 1935 when 3,200 people died.

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