Utahns in Taiwan describe Wednesday’s violent earthquake

Apr 3, 2024, 5:21 PM | Updated: Apr 5, 2024, 1:16 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns in Taiwan are reeling from Wednesday’s massive earthquake and the following aftershocks.

Even those hours away from the epicenter felt the violent shaking.

It was the strongest earthquake in a quarter-century to rocked Taiwan. Nine people have died and more than 1,000 people were injured.

The Utahs we spoke to in that country said they were in Utah when a 5.7 earthquake hit Magna in 2020.

Jo Phillips said her daughter and grandchildren are in Taiwan and they said the Utah event doesn’t compare.

“Like nothing she’s ever experienced before,” Phillips said.

She said she panicked when she turned on the news Wednesday.

“This is not what they expected to happen during their two-week trip,” Phillips said.

She planned to show her oldest children the country and introduce them to her former companions and friends there. Since the earthquake hit Wednesday morning, Phillips said they’ve stayed in their hotel, for the most part.

“They were in a hotel and they felt the shaking,” she said.

She says their room didn’t have solid tables to hide under.

“They tried to protect their heads as best they could,” Phillips said.

They ran outside after more than two minutes of shaking.

“The children hurt themselves with going downstairs and things falling,” Phillips said. Her granddaughter seriously injured her ankle. She was seen by a Chinese medicine doctor because she couldn’t even walk.

They feel like there hasn’t been much relief since.

Phillips said, “Constant aftershocks over and over and over. The buildings are swaying.”

Another Utahn in Taiwan wasn’t near the epicenter, but the shaking jolted her off her hotel bed.

“Everything just started wiggling,” Brittney Aubrey said. “Everything started falling over. The whole building was just shaking. These light fixtures above our bed that were just shaking like crazy.”

She and her boyfriend visited some of his relatives, including his stepmother in Taiwan.

“When she realized how big the earthquake was, she goes, ‘OK, well, maybe that one’s not normal but earthquakes are normal here.’” Aubrey said.

She called this earthquake far more intense than anything she’s experienced. The constant aftershocks keep her awake.

“It felt like the whole Utah earthquake,” she said. “You feel the rumble, you’re like, ‘Is that an earthquake or is it just like a big truck?’ It’s just that all over again.”

As for Phillips, she said her daughter and grandchildren are trying to head south but those plans depend on whether Taiwan’s mass rapid transit system is up and running. She said they’re trying to escape from the constant aftershocks.

“The kids keep hiding and covering their heads because they don’t know what’s coming next,” she said.

Phillips said she’s been asking people to keep Taiwan in their prayers.

“They are they are amazing, wonderful people,” she said. “I’ve been there. I have met these people. They are the salt of the earth.”

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Utahns in Taiwan describe Wednesday’s violent earthquake