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American Couple Survives Quake

September 22, 1999

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ Hurricane Floyd bypassed them back home in Florida, but Paul and Sandra Gianini couldn’t escape disaster in Taiwan.

The Valencia Community College president and his wife were spending their first night in Taiwan, where they were arranging student exchange programs, when they were shaken awake by a devastating earthquake.

The quake toppled buildings and killed or injured thousands. Floyd, slipping along Florida’s east coast last week, caused an estimated $117.3 million in damage to the state.

``It lasted over a minute. I didn’t know what was happening,″ Gianini said from Taiwan. ``I’ve been in hurricanes, but you always are told they are coming. These things, you have no warning.″

The Gianinis stood under the door frame leading to a bathroom in their sixth-floor hotel room as the grout fell out of tiles and walls began cracking, he said.

The power went out and emergency lights kicked on. The Gianinis ran down a stairwell with other guests and huddled for an hour in a pedestrian median across the street in case their 12-story hotel collapsed.

But the building held, despite numerous aftershocks, Gianini said.

A few miles away, another 12-story hotel collapsed, killing at least 160 people.

``I’ve aged considerably in the past 48 hours,″ Gianini said.

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