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Japanese EMT joins Taiwan rescue team as way of saying thanks

2018/02/09 14:34:05

Taipei, Feb. 9 (CNA) Hiroto Matsuoka, a Japanese emergency medical technician (EMT), came to Taiwan immediately after he learned of the deadly earthquake in Hualien on Feb. 6, determined to join the rescue efforts as a way of paying back for Taiwan's help in a 2011 natural disaster in his country.

Following his arrival in Taiwan on Wednesday, Matsuoka joined a rescue unit of five people working at the site of the partially collapsed Yun Men Tsui Ti building in the eastern county of Hualien.

Matsuoka, 33, said he was motivated by the support extended by the Taiwanese people after a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011.

"Taiwan reached out to Japan after the 2011 earthquake and now it's my turn to assist Taiwan," he said.

When the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck Japan in 2011, Matsuoka said, he was in Taiwan as a volunteer with a medical team that was accompanying pilgrims on the Baishatun Matsu Pilgrimage.

However, because he had no EMT certification in Taiwan, he could not provide any medical assistance during the pilgrimage, he said.

Matsuoka said he later returned to Taiwan to learn Chinese and to obtain EMT certification for the country.

Now that he has come to Taiwan to help with the quake rescue efforts, he can provide medical assistance, said Matsuoka, whose mother is Taiwanese.

He said the Tokyo hospital where he works as an EMT has granted him two weeks paid leave, in recognition of the Taiwan's strong support after the 2011 earthquake in Japan.

Rescue efforts are ongoing for survivors in the wake of a 6.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Hualien late Tuesday night, killing at least 10 people, injuring hundreds, and causing widespread infrastructure damage.

(By Sunrise Huang and Lee Hsin-Yin)