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Remembering the 921 earthquake

2019/09/21 14:00:00

Sept. 21 marks the 20th anniversary of the 921 earthquake in central Taiwan, which took place in Jiji, Nantou County, on Sept. 21, 1999. The magnitude-7.3 quake took more than 2,400 lives, and left tens of thousands of people injured.

As part of the 20th anniversary of the Jiji earthquake, CNA photographers recently revisited some of the sites that were hit by the devastating earthquake and took pictures of what these places have become today.

It's only when you look at the before and after pictures that you can really begin to understand the true level of destruction.

A 1999 photo shows the clock on a roundabout at Chung Hsing New Village in Nantou County, with its needles pointing at 1:47 a.m. when the earthquake struck that night on Sept. 21. The clock still stands today.

A before and after picture of downtown Puli Township is seen here, where buildings that collapsed on the night of the huge earthquake have since been reconstructed, replaced by a variety of shops selling food and vegetables.

The infamous Tunghsing Building located in Taipei’s Songshan District that collapsed and killed 87 people in 1999. The destruction was mainly due the building’s substandard construction, which meant it stood little chance of withstanding the force of the strong earthquake. The building was rebuilt in 2009.

Pillars at Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) Jiji Station in Nantou lean sideways after the quake struck. Today, activity has returned to normal in this popular tourist stop.

A quake victim takes refuge at a park just outside the Jiji Station, which quickly became a sanctuary for the hundreds of nearby residents setting up tents there for fear of returning home after the devastating earthquake. The park remains to this day, and has since become a popular tourist attraction.

An old and a recent photo of Nantou’s Sun Moon Lake Teachers’ Hostel, which provides accommodation for public servants, school teachers, and also members of the public. The round arch that welcomes visitors at the front entrance was never damaged and still stands today.

A 1999 photo of the Taipei Jingmei Girls High School shows the collapse of one of its buildings in the aftermath of the Jiji earthquake. The site where the structure fell now serves as a public space for students.

The track and field at Puli Junior High School in Nantou is turned into an evacuation zone for victims of the quake in 1999. Today, students play basketball on the site.

A before and after photo of the road leading to and from the Jiji Tunnel in Nantou.

An aerial photo of the damage of the Shigang Dam in Taichung is pictured right after the 1999 earthquake. The structure is a concrete gravity barrage dam that stretches across the Dajia River in Shigang District and Dongshi District of Taichung. It took a year for the site to be repaired.

The Chang Gung Bridge that crosses the Dajia River in Taichung is seen broken in pieces on one side in 1999. Reconstruction was completed in 2003, and continues to serve motorists to this day.

An electricity tower operated by Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) in Nantou is seen titled in the aftermath of the 1999 earthquake. Today, the structure remains intact but has been left defunct, while its surrounding areas have been turned into a memorial park.

School children observe damage on the track and field caused by the devastating quake that shook Guangfu Junior High School in Taichung’s Wufeng District in 1999. The site has been left as it was and now turned into a museum as a sober reminder of the devastating earthquake.

(By Cheng Chieh-wen, Kuo Jih-hsiao, Wang Fei-hua, Sun Chung-ta and Ko Lin)

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