As a California native, John G. Rebelo Jr. has endured his share of earthquakes. But the chief executive officer at Peninsula Bank of San Diego said nothing could have prepared him for the jolt he received last week while visiting Taiwan on business.

Mr. Rebelo was in a Taipei hotel when the massive quake, which killed more than 2,000 people in the tiny country, struck. Though he and his wife escaped unscathed from their 19th-floor hotel room, Mr. Rebelo said he has never been so frightened.

"It was very traumatic," he said. "The room looked like an accordion . . . the walls and floors buckled."

Taipei, Taiwan's capital, is about 90 miles from the quake's epicenter and thus suffered less damage than other parts of the island. Nevertheless, Mr. Rebelo and other guests at the Grand Hyatt hotel were forced to wait six anxious hours before the building was declared safe.

Mr. Rebelo was representing the California Bankers Association at a meeting to promote trade relationships between Californian and Taiwanese banks. He was joined by California's former banking commissioner, Walter J. Mix, and several Chinese-American bankers from Los Angeles. -- Matt Andrejczak

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.