China - Taiwan Province

Taiwan Earthquake Fact Sheet # 6


This is the final Factsheet on the September 21 earthquake in Taiwan.

Overview of Situation: On September 26, 1999, at 0750 local time a strong aftershock registering 6.5 on the Richter scale hit the municipality of Ming-Chin, Nantou County, and caused several buildings to collapse. Five previously demobilized international search and rescue teams were requested to remain on stand-by.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reports 2,084 people dead, 8,664 injured, approximately 162 trapped in the rubble, and another 18 reported missing (OCHA Situation Report No. 7 September 27).

Most of the victims are from the central city of Taichung and nearby Nantou.

Nantou authorities estimate 100,000 people have been left homeless. A sports stadium in Nantou has been converted into an emergency medical clinic, and homeless residents are camping on the field. Thousands are camping out overnight due to the destruction of their homes or fear of further collapse.

UNOCHA reported that the transportation network and communications were severely disrupted in the central, mountainous area, and affected towns are without adequate water supply.

The head of the Taiwan Economic Ministry’s statistics department indicated a mixed effect on Taiwan’s economy, citing a negative impact on the manufacturing industry, but increased production of iron, steel and cement for reconstruction. (Agentur Deutsche Press)

Taiwan agricultural authorities reported the earthquake destroyed 193 grain warehouses containing 82,000 metric tons of rice; however, sufficient domestic supplies remain to meet their needs.

USAID Response:

USAID provided $25,000 through the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) to meet critical needs of those affected. AIT manages the United States Government’s unofficial relations with Taiwan and channeled the assistance through the local Red Cross. USAID also committed $2,386,200 for the cost of the SAR Team (including mobilization costs). The Department of Defense contributed $82,000 to the response effort by supplying 1,500 bodybags to local authorities. (Note: These figures are preliminary and subject to change.)

AIT sent representatives to Nantou to verify the status of the American community. AIT confirms that one American child was killed in the earthquake and two American citizens were injured.

USAID’s 92-person SAR team was composed of USAID disaster specialists, Fairfax County, Virginia SAR specialists, and Miami-Dade, Florida SAR specialists. The SAR team began operations on September 22 in Touliu, an urban area that is approximately 32 miles from the epicenter in Nantou County, and on September 23, the SAR team rescued a 32-year old male.

Following the September 26 aftershock, the USAID Team re-deployed to Nantou County to conduct an assessment. Local authorities later determined that additional assistance was not required from the USAID SAR team.

Based on consultations with local emergency response officials, the USAID Team ceased operations on Sunday, September 26 and returned to Taipei to continue the demobilization process. The team returned to the United States on Tuesday, September 28.

Four Fairfax County and Miami-Dade SAR personnel joined the United Nations On-Site Operations and Coordination Center (OSOCC) and continued to work in a safety and advisory role through Tuesday, September 28, when most international teams were expected to leave Taiwan.

Local Response Efforts:

Taiwan authorities established emergency response centers in Taipei, Nantou, Changhua, and Taichung. The centers coordinate work sector assignments for SAR teams.

The United Nations OSOCC reported Taiwan authorities established a local donor distribution center in the city of Fengyun, where large quantities of relief materials and food are being provided to victims.

Taiwan authorities are deploying local rescue workers to remote, affected rural areas.

Local authorities and the Red Cross cited clean water as an urgent need; generators, tents and communications support are also priority needs.

Water was released from the Sun Moon Lake dam south of Puli to prevent further damage and diminish any potential threat to the population.

International Response/Coordination Efforts:

The Emergency Response Center in Taipei has indicated that experts are needed to inspect buildings and dams. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent a team to Taiwan to conduct site analysis and assess damage patterns in urban areas. Additionally, the Bureau of Land Reclamation, under an existing Memorandum of Understanding with Taiwan authorities, sent a team of 3 dam safety experts to conduct dam safety evaluations.

Cable News Network (CNN) reports that approximately 3 hours following the September 26 aftershock, rescuers pulled 2 brothers alive from the wreckage of a Taipei hotel, 130 hours after the initial earthquake.

InterAction reports that U.S. private voluntary organizations (PVOs) are responding to the earthquake: several are accepting contributions of funds to channel to victims of the disaster. PVO activities include shipment and/or distribution of supplies (medical supplies, water storage containers, personal hygiene products, food, clothing, blankets, sleeping bags, tents), water purification, and counseling for victims.

The American Red Cross provided $100,000 to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The Red Cross Society of China offered $100,000 to the Taiwan Red Cross Organization and $60,000 worth of relief supplies.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) will contribute $336,000 for emergency supplies, Italy is sending $200,000 worth of emergency aid, and the European Union has set aside $523,000 to assist the earthquake victims.

Public Donation Information:

USAID activated its 1-800-USAID-RELIEF phone bank to advise callers that monetary donations to private voluntary organizations currently working in Taiwan are the best way to assure that useful assistance reaches those in need.

Information on this subject also can be found on USAID’s website at


An earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale at 0147 local time September 21, 1999, struck Taiwan. The epicenter was located 12.5 km west of Sun-Moon Lake in rural Nantou County in Central Taiwan, and has been followed by a series of aftershocks.

There was substantial damage to housing and infrastructure, especially in Taichung City and Nantou. Numerous high rise structures have collapsed or are uninhabitable, including buildings in Taichung, Chunghwa and Yunlin counties. Taipei suffered relatively little damage.

Bridges and roads leading into the central region were badly damaged, complicating the delivery of relief supplies and equipment, although major airports continue to function normally.

Contact Information:

Media - USAID Press Officer at (202) 712-4320
Public Information Center - (202) 712-4810
Congressional Liaison-(202) 712-4330

Estimated USG Assistance to-date: *

Local Red Cross for relief assistance: $25,000
Deployment/Demobilization of Search and Rescue team (SAR 1): $2,386,200
Total USAID/OFDA Assistance: $2,411,200

Body Bags and transport: $82,000
Total DOD Assistance: $82,000

Total USG Assistance: $2,493,200

* Estimates may change as costs become actual figures.