Vietnamese tourist wakes up to Taiwan's strongest quake in two decades

By Tu Nguyen, Bich Phuong   April 2, 2024 | 10:44 pm PT
Vo Than woke up on Wednesday morning and was preparing his bag for an outing when he noticed the glass door in his room was cracked.

He quickly joined other people to escape from the hotel, as Taiwan issued widespread warnings after a 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck near the city of Hualien.

Than, who is visiting Taipei, around 180 kilometers from the quake epicenter, said he felt slight tremors that gradually increased in intensity on Wednesday morning.

The tempered glass door in the bathroom on the third floor of his hotel had many cracks but was not completely broken. After that, he and everyone quickly fled out of the hotel through the emergency exit.

"I told the hotel to change rooms to ensure safety but have not been given a specific solution," he said.

The glass door of a hotel room in Taipei appeared with light cracks on April 3 2024. Photo by Vo Than

The glass door of a hotel room in Taipei appeared is cracked on April 3, 2024. Photo by Vo Than

Minh Thuy, who lives in Ho Chi Minh City and went to Taiwan to travel at the beginning of the week, said she was staying at a relative's house about 278 km from the earthquake epicenter.

Thuy said the tremors had appeared since Tuesday morning, but it was not until Wednesday morning that she received a warning by phone.

She said people living in Taiwan have been familiar with earthquakes, so they handle situations quickly.

Thuy has temporarily cancelled all travel plans to Hualien until the situation is safe again.

Phan Tan Phat, who has lived in Taiwan for 12 years and runs a local tour company based in Hsinchu city, about 300 km from the epicenter, said he felt strong shaking while driving to work.

At first, he thought the car was broken, but when he saw the traffic lights shaking, he realized an earthquake was coming.

Two hours after the earthquake, Taiwan's strongest in 25 years, the Hsinchu area was still shaking strongly.

Currently, all high-speed trains in Taiwan are suspended because "an underground tunnel in the Hualien area collapsed," Phat said.

Phat said now is the peak tourist season in Taiwan as customers booking tours at his company come to see the cherry blossom. The company continues to monitor the situation.

A building in Taiwan has almost collapsed after an earthquake on April 3, 2024. Photo by Reuters

A building in Taiwan has almost collapsed after an earthquake on April 3, 2024. Photo by Reuters

Vietnamese travel companies are monitoring the situation to come up with solutions.

Pham Anh Vu, marketing director of Viet Tourism Media Company, said his group of tourists that will return to Vietnam from Taipei on Wednesday is currently safe.

Taiwanese land tour partners informed the company that popular destinations with Vietnamese tourists such as Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung are relatively safe, and Taiwanese authorities have not made any move to recommend halting tourism services.

Meanwhile, the epicenter of Hualien is not a popular destination for Vietnamese travel companies because the road is inconvenient and only serves a few guests with special needs.

Vu said his company was scheduled to take a group of tourists to Taipei on Thursday and is waiting for notification from the Taiwanese authorities. In the event that no warning is given, the group will depart as normal.

Hoang Minh, owner of a travel company in Hanoi, said there will be four tour groups to Taiwan by April 13, with the latest group departing on April 6. Currently, the unit has not received notice of flight cancellation from Eva Air.

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