Wednesday, October 19, 2016

An earthquake memorial in central Taiwan

Not long ago, after an appointment in central Taichung, I jumped on a bus to what is now the city’s Shengang District (神岡區), but which was part of Taichung County until the city and county were merged at the end of 2010. Why Shengang? I’d never been, and I reasoned that in every place there’s something of interest.

Soon after getting off the bus, I came across this memorial. I didn’t notice the man taking a nap behind it until I got home and looked carefully at my photos; while I was there I was busy trying to figure out what event it commemorated, because the characters incised on the plinth were barely legible. 

It turned out to be a memorial to the deadliest earthquake in Taiwan's recorded history, the temblor which struck the west-central region just after dawn on April 21, 1935. According to the Wikipedia entry on the disaster, 3,276 people were killed and just over 12,000 injured. Almost 18,000 houses were destroyed; twice as many suffered serious damage. The most famous and photogenic reminder of the 1935 disaster is Longteng Broken Bridge, a short distance north in Miaoli County. This part of Taiwan was also hit badly by the more recent 921 Earthquake (so named because it occurred in the early hours of September 21, 1999).

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