Saturday, December 19, 2009

Biggest earthquake yet

About an hour and a half ago, around 9:00pm, I was eating at a BBQ restaurant with some friends, when an earthquake hit. I've felt about 8 or 9 earthquakes in the past 20 months that I've lived here, but this one was the strongest and scariest for me. During the previous earthquakes I would sit and wonder if it would get stronger, but this time it actually did get stronger. The USGS reports that it was a magnitude 6.4, but Taiwan news reported that it was 6.8, so I'm not sure.

I was sure of the panic in the customers' and employees' voices, though. Most of us were looking up at the roof, which wasn't a roof proper but a series of steel (?) beams covered with some kind of heavy fabric material. There were no ceiling panels to fall on us, but I think we were wondering if the beams would buckle and fall down. Some of the folks ran out of the restaurant. In those few seconds I was weighing my options: Either run outside (which American earthquake experts say is not a good idea), or get under our table. The table, while very sturdy, had a barbecue inset in the center, so there really wasn't much room underneath. Besides, there were two children in our party and I didn't want to take the space from them.

The entire quake lasted a good 30 seconds, with the strongest middle part about 10-12 seconds, during which I truly began to get afraid. Fortunately, there were no injuries or damage that I could see. I don't know yet about the east coast, where the epicenter was located.

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