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1906 Meishan earthquake

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Title: 1906 Meishan earthquake  
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Subject: 1941 Chungpu earthquake, Index of Taiwan-related articles, 1916–17 Nantou earthquakes, 1959 Hengchun earthquake, Fusakichi Omori
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1906 Meishan earthquake

1906 Meishan Earthquake
Date March 17, 1906 (1906-03-17)
Magnitude 7.1 ML
Depth 6 kilometres (4 mi)
Areas affected Taiwan, Empire of Japan
Casualties 1,258 dead
2,385 injured

The 1906 Meishan earthquake (Chinese: 1906年梅山地震; pinyin: 1906 nián Měishān Dìzhèn) was a magnitude 7.1 earthquake which was centered on modern day Meishan, Chiayi County, Taiwan and occurred on March 17, 1906 (during Japanese rule). Referred to at the time as the Great Ka-gi earthquake (Chinese: 嘉義大地震; pinyin: Jiāyì Dà Dìzhèn), it is the third-deadliest earthquake in Taiwan's recorded history, claiming around 1,260 lives.

Technical data

The earthquake struck at 06:43 local time on March 17, 1906 with a magnitude of 7.1 on the Richter scale and a focal depth of 6 kilometres (4 mi). The event created the Meishan fault, a fault line with a length of 25 kilometres (16 mi) stretching through modern-day Chiayi County.[1] Aftershocks continued throughout the day, hampering rescue efforts.[2]


Reports vary slightly, but according to the official Central Weather Bureau summary, the casualties and damage were as follows:[3]

  • Deaths: 1,258
  • Injuries: 2,385
  • Houses destroyed: 6,769
  • Houses damaged: 14,218
A Japanese colonial office, which sustained damage in the earthquake

Fusakichi Omori, a pioneering seismologist from Japan who arrived shortly after the earthquake believed that the high number of casualties was due to the construction of the local houses. Loosely cemented with mud, the combination of sun-dried mud brick walls and heavy roofing beams was thought to be responsible for many dwellings collapsing, killing or injuring the inhabitants.[4] He also found evidence of soil liquefaction, and stated that the town of Bishō (Meishan) had been completely destroyed by the quake.[4]

Omori's figures give slightly different casualty rates, and very different statistics for building damage:[4]

  • Deaths: 1,266
  • Injuries: 2,476
  • Houses destroyed: 7,284
  • Houses damaged: 30,021


The veteran missionary William Campbell wrote concerning the quake:

The Japanese colonial authorities in Taipei sent teams of medical personnel to assist, and Campbell reported that shortly after the earthquake reconstruction efforts were well advanced.[6] At the time some writers suggested a link between the Meishan quake and the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which occurred a month later,[7] while some religious groups linked it not only with the San Francisco disaster, but also an earlier earthquake in Cambria, Italy and other natural disasters as a sign of the end-times.[8]


  1. ^ 1906年梅山地震 (in Chinese). Central Weather Bureau. Archived from the original on 2009-08-11. Retrieved 2009-07-20. 
  2. ^ "Earthquakes kill more than 1,200 in Taiwan". Archived from the original on 2009-08-11. Retrieved 2009-07-20. 
  3. ^ "Establishment of Disaster Earthquake Catalog on GIS" (pdf).  
  4. ^ a b c Omori, F. Preliminary Note of the Formosa Earthquake of March 17, 1906.  
  5. ^ Campbell, William (1915). Sketches from Formosa. p. 82.  
  6. ^ Campbell, William (1915). Sketches from Formosa. p. 83. 
  7. ^  
  8. ^ Gruss, Edmond C. (2001). Jehovah's Witnesses: their claims, doctrinal changes, and prophetic speculation : what does the record show?. 
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