Washington, Feb. 6 (CNA) The U.S. State Department and several U.S. congressmen Saturday sent condolences to the victims of a deadly earthquake hitting southern Taiwan earlier in the day.
These U.S. parliamentarians said that the United States will provide necessary assistance to people in Taiwan for post-quake relief efforts and reconstruction.
In a statement, John Kirby, spokesman of the U.S. State Department, on behalf of the American people, expressed "deepest condolences over the recent devastation and loss of life caused by the earthquake in southern Taiwan."
"The heartfelt thoughts of the American people are with all those affected in Taiwan," Kirby continued.
A 6.4-magnitude quake hit southern Taiwan at 3:57 a.m. Saturday, toppling more than 10 buildings, all in Tainan. The tremor killed at least 18, leaving 505 injured. While a total of 356 have been rescued, 152 others remained unaccounted for at a time when people in Taiwan were in the Lunar New Year holiday.
The rescue efforts still continued in a bid to rescue as many people as possible, while donations from enterprises and charity groups kept pouring in to help with rescue relief.
Among the U.S. congressmen who sent condolences over the quake in Taiwan, Matt Salmon, chairman of the Asia and Pacific Subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, said that he has great concerns over the loss suffered by Taiwan.
In his twitter page, Salmon said: "Please keep the Taiwanese people in our thoughts as they cope with the destruction of today's magnitude 6.4 earthquake."
James Inhofe, co-chairman of the U.S. Senate Taiwan Caucus, also prayed for people in Taiwan after the serious disaster, and stressed a close friendship between Taiwan and the U.S., vowing to provide necessary help to Taipei.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Taiwan as we mourn for those whose lives have been lost and offer our support to their families and all the people of Taiwan," Inhofe said in a statement. "The ties between our two countries are strong and deep. We will stand together to overcome this tragedy so that Taiwan can emerge stronger."
Inhofe added that he will work with both the U.S. Departments of State and Defense to help provide Taiwan whatever assistance they may need to save lives and help the country and its people in reconstruction.
In a statement, Robert Menendez, co-chair of the Taiwan Caucus of the U.S. Senate, also expressed the willingness to help Taiwan take on the difficulties after the quake.
"My heart and prayers are with the people of Taiwan, and especially those who have lost or are searching for loved ones in this tragic earthquake," Menendez said. "The friendship between Taiwan and the United States is deep and genuine, and the American people will do all we can to help Taiwan in the face of this disaster."
For his part, U.S. Senator Paul Strauss said that he has been concerned about the earthquake in Taiwan and his thoughts have been with people in Taiwan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S.
(By Tony Liao and Frances Huang; click here for the full coverage of the earthquke aftermath.)enditem