20 April 2019
Taroko Gorge: a dashcam video of a very near-miss with a co-seismic rockfall in Taiwan
A magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck eastern Taiwan on Thursday 18th April 2019 at at 13:01 local time. This shallow earthquake shook the extraordinarily beautiful Taroko Gorge in eastern Taiwan, a major tourist attraction with very tall, very steep slopes above a major highway. A dashcam video has been posted to Youtube, shot by a motorist on the road at the time of the earthquake. Unsurprisingly, the earthquake triggered large numbers of rockfalls. The dashcam video captures a near-miss event that was extraordinarily close to being a tragedy:-
The video hits the road just in front of the car, and then fragments and bounces, with the debris flying over the top of the vehicle. Note that further rockfalls also occur:-
“In the video, a couple is casually driving on a sunny day through the Luoshao Road Section of Provincial Highway 8 in Taroko National Park. When the car reaches approximately the 153 to 161-kilometer mark, the driver feels the road start to shake, and in a twist of fate, he decides to pull over briefly, possibly buying precious seconds that saved his life.”
The video has a date and time stamp in the footer that suggest that it is genuine.
Elsewhere, two hikers were struck by falling rocks in Taroko Gorge. One of these individuals, a Malaysian national, suffered serious injuries. There is also a nice video of an earthquake-triggered rockfall elsewhere in eastern Taiwan, in this case at Qingshui Cliffs:-
It is likely that similar events have occurred on the steep slopes in Hualien County, but I have seen no reports of large landslides to date.