Disaster epidemiology and medical response in the Chi-Chi earthquake in Taiwan

Nai Jen Liang, Yaw Tang Shih, Fuh Yuan Shih, Hsiu Mei Wu, Hsian-Jenn Wang, Shu Feng Shi, Ming Ying Liu, Bill Binglong Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


Study objective: We examine the mortality and morbidity associated with earthquakes in the Chi-Chi earthquake in Taiwan in 1999. Methods: Crude casualty data were collected from the reports of the government, local health bureaus, and 97 hospitals. The demographic data from the annual report of the Department of Interior were also employed for data analysis. Cross tables showing incidence of deaths and injuries by age, sex, time, and geographic distribution were generated to compare the mortality among different subgroups. Multiple regression models were established to explore the risk factors related to the mortality caused by earthquakes. Results: The following results were found: the mortality rate increased with proximity to the epicenter, mortality was higher among the elderly than among young people, 30% of the victims died from head injuries caused by the collapse of dwellings, and the peak of medical demand was 12 hours after the earthquake and significantly increased demand for care lasted as long as 3 days. Furthermore, the regression model indicated that 78.5% of the variation of locality-age-sex-specific mortality was explained by the intensity of the earthquake, age, population density, distance to epicenter, medical beds per 10,000 people, and physicians per 10,000 people. Conclusion: The results implied that fragile minorities, specifically the elderly and children, require special consideration and attention in regard to disaster rescue and emergency medical care allocation. Epidemiologic analysis can guide disaster response and preparation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-555
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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