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1959 Hengchun earthquake

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1959 Hengchun earthquake

1959 Hengchun Earthquake
1959 Hengchun earthquake is located in Taiwan
1959 Hengchun earthquake
Date August 15, 1959 (1959-08-15)
Magnitude 7.1 ML
Depth 20 kilometres (12 mi)
Areas affected Taiwan
Tsunami yes
Casualties 16 or 17 dead

The 1959 Hengchun earthquake (Chinese: 1959年恆春地震; pinyin: 1959 nián Héngchūn dìzhèn) struck the southern tip of Taiwan on August 15 with a Richter magnitude 7.1. It was the tenth deadliest earthquake in twentieth century Taiwan, killing 16 or 17 people.

Technical details

The earthquake occurred at 16:57 CST on Saturday August 15, 1959, with an epicentre 50 kilometres (31 mi) east-southeast of Cape Eluanbi, the southern tip of the island of Taiwan. The shock had a focal depth of 20 kilometres (12 mi). A tsunami 4–5 m (13–16 ft) high hit both the southeastern and southwestern coasts of Hengchun. The earthquake was felt throughout Taiwan and also in the Penghu islands off Taiwan's western coast.[1]


According to Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau the casualties and damage were as follows:[1]

  • 17 dead
  • 33 seriously injured
  • 35 lightly injured
  • 1,214 dwellings completely destroyed
  • 1,375 dwellings partially destroyed

Due to Hengchun's exposed position on the southern tip of Taiwan, residents frequently built heavy houses of stone to counter both the effects of typhoons and the seasonal northwesterly monsoon winds. These structures effectively resisted the effects of wind, but fared poorly in earthquakes, collapsing and trapping the occupants.[1]

Fortunately the timing of the quake, late afternoon, meant that many people were outdoors when it struck, lessening casualties from building collapse. The estimated cost of the damage (in 1959 New Taiwan Dollars) was NT$24,111,920 for private housing, and NT$6,127,000 for damaged or collapsed school buildings, giving a total of just over NT$30m.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d 中央氣象局. "Preface". 台灣地區十大災害地震圖集 (A Collection of Images of Ten Great Earthquake Disasters in the Taiwan Region) (in Chinese). Central Weather Bureau. Archived from the original on 2009-08-11. Retrieved 2009-08-08. 
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