After the Taiwan earthquake, families find shelter in tents

(Hualien) When the earth shook in Taiwan, Hendri Sutrisno first hid under a table with his wife and their baby, before fleeing for fear of aftershocks and spending the night from Wednesday to Thursday under one tents erected near a school in Hualien, the epicenter of the earthquake.

“It is better and wiser for us to stay here,” explains this 30-year-old father, while his two-month-old child sleeps in the stroller at the camp hastily set up after the earthquake.

“We have everything we need, blankets, toilets and a place to rest,” assures the Indonesian professor at Donghua University in Hualien, the city most affected by the earthquake.

After the powerful earthquake that shook the eastern shore of Taiwan on Wednesday morning, rescuers erected tents near a primary school in Hualien, a port of nearly 100,000 inhabitants.

They brought stuffed animals, blankets and even baby milk.

More than a hundred residents of the coastal city took refuge there Wednesday evening, as the aftershocks continued.

If we stay at home, “we fear that it will be very difficult for us to evacuate once again, especially with the baby, when the big aftershocks occur,” adds the young father.

Thursday morning, the island had suffered more than 300 aftershocks from the first earthquake, which left nine dead and a thousand injured, the most powerful in 25 years in Taiwan.

Sagging buildings

Nearby, in central Hualien, workers pour concrete at the base of a glass building, leaning at 45 degrees, that became emblematic of the earthquake after half of its first floor collapsed.

This is where Chen Hsiu-ying, 59, lived. “If I had returned home earlier, I would have been inside,” says this resident, now taking refuge at the elementary school where AFP met her.

“My hands are still shaking,” she confides, remembering the shaking she felt on Wednesday on the road when returning from work, “it was the first time I experienced that,” she adds. .

She now worries about her belongings left at home in the collapsed building. “I still have my things there, like a photo of my mother,” she laments.

Near the Hualien school, more than a dozen earthquake survivors chose to return home Thursday morning.

But many cannot, their homes damaged, destroyed or unsafe. Others choose, for the safety of their children, to stay in tents.

Hendri Sutrisno hopes that Thursday evening he will spend his last night at the shelter with his little family.

“I’ll go see and talk to the staff” of the building Friday morning, to “see if it’s safe to go up to the floors,” he said. Because on Wednesday evening, it was still too dangerous, he reports.


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