Taipei, Oct. 24 (CNA) A search and rescue team from New Taipei City is on standby to depart for Turkey to offer assistance in the aftermath of a powerful earthquake that struck the country Sunday, an official from the northern Taiwan city said Monday.
"We sent text messages to all of our rescue team members after we learned that a magnitude-7.2 earthquake had hit eastern Turkey, causing heavy human casualties," said Huang Teh-ching, director of the New Taipei City Fire Department.
The team's search and rescue equipment, including life detectors, has been packed in preparation for the aid mission and, if necessary, the team's four search and rescue dogs will also join the efforts, he said.
In order to provide the most timely and effective emergency aid, the National Fire Agency under the Ministry of the Interior has worked out a schedule for search and rescue teams in cities and counties around the country to take turns on overseas aid missions, Huang said.
"A priority team and a reserve team are listed each month for overseas emergency rescue assistance, and this month it is turn of the New Taipei team," he said.
Wu Hung-yi, a division chief with the New Taipei rescue team, said the team was part of the search and rescue mission to Japan after a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck that country in March this year.
"We are prepared to head for Turkey, with the general equipment packed and personal equipment distributed to all team members," Huang said. "We can fly out as soon as the National Fire Agency gives the go-ahead."
According to foreign wire services, at least 217 people have been killed in the Turkey quake and dozens of building have collapsed into piles of twisted steel and chunks of concrete.
(By Wang Hung-kuo and Sofia Wu)