In the wire photos, Taiwan tends to look like either Hiroshima after the
blast or a banana republic full of helpless peasants. Neither image is
much like the real Taiwan.Taiwan has three huge, modern cities where some
poorly built structures have collapsed and claimed hundreds of lives, but
entire neighborhoods still stand nearly untouched.
Damage to smaller buildings is random, with older or cheaper buildings
collapsing in the midst of dozens of unaffected houses. I hope these photos
give a clearer picture of how things look to the average person in Taiwan
right now. Although some towns in the mountains are totally devastated
and many people can't return to damaged homes, most of Taiwan has seen
only light damage.
It's still hard to tell how bad things might be in the central mountain
areas. Aftershocks have pounded the area particularly hard. The coming
rainy season may or may not lead to more landslides or collapses of weakened
buildings. Many families have been terribly worried about family
and friends in these remote areas when communication lines were out.