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Taiwan ready to provide aid to Guatemala: MOFA

2010/05/31 10:55:19

Taipei, May 31 (CNA) Taiwan is keeping a close watch on therecent natural disaster in Guatemala and ready to provide aid whennecessary, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Sunday.

Reports said at least 12 people, including four children, havedied in mudslides and floods caused by Tropical Storm Agatha, whichhas wreaked havoc in much of the central and southern part ofGuatemala.

Torrential rains and strong gusts have greatly impeded theclean-up effort after Pacaya Volcano erupted last Thursday, forcingthe evacuations of over 1,000 homes.

The storm is expected to dump at least 50 centimeters of rain inGuatemala as well as part of El Salvador and southeastern Mexico,authorities said.

Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom Caballeros declared a state ofemergency in the Escuintla region, Guatemala City and areas aroundthe capital, and shut down country's main airport due to heavyvolcanic ash.

According to reports, Guatemalan officials fear the floodingcould be worse than usual because the ash and debris from theeruption have blocked the drainage system.

MOFA Deputy Spokesman James Chang said that the embassy iscarefully assessing the situation and that Taipei is prepared toprovide help as soon as the Guatemalan government makes a request.

There have been no reports of Taiwanese nationals injured in thestring of natural disasters.

MOFA has raised the travel warning for Guatemala to the "yellow"level and urged Taiwanese travelers to refrain from makingunnecessary visits to the country.

Travelers should also check with airlines prior to departurebecause the government has shut down Guatemala City' s internationalairport.

Those who are already in Guatemala should stay away from centralmountainous region such as Banos and Sangay National Park, theministry advised.

(By Jenny W. Hsu)