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Turkish rescue workers assist Taiwan's quake relief efforts

04/08/2024 12:56 PM
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Photo: National Fire Agency April 7, 2024
Photo: National Fire Agency April 7, 2024

Taipei, April 8 (CNA) Turkish rescue workers are working with their Taiwanese counterparts to search for six people still missing and recover two bodies buried under boulders on a hiking trail in Hualien County in the aftermath of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that rocked Taiwan on April 3.

After the fatal temblor, six people remain unaccounted for and two were found dead along the Shakadang Trail at Taroko National Park, famed for its rugged mountainous terrain, on Friday morning, partially buried under rocks, according to authorities.

The two dead and three of the missing on Shakadang Trail are members of a family of five. The two trapped bodies found on Friday were identified as the father and oldest daughter.

The three others still missing include a Singaporean couple who also hold Australian citizenship and one worker missing in Zhonghe quarry, Hualien County.

The missing Singaporean couple were last seen in CCTV footage getting off a tourist shuttle bus at Shakadang on the morning of April 3, about 40 minutes before the earthquake struck, and are believed to have gone hiking in the area, authorities said.

On Monday, Jian Hong-cheng (簡弘丞), leader of Hualien County Fire Department's special search and rescue team, said the team has dispatched seven personnel and three search-and-rescue dogs to search five cabins near the 1.5-kilometer marker on Shakadang Trail after it determined that based on relevant information the previous day, the Singaporean couple could have visited the cabins.

At a press briefing a day earlier, Jian said that in an effort to locate the three missing family members believed to have been in the area near the 0.5-kilometer marker of the trail, the special search and rescue team has created a route along a riverbed in the area using heavy machinery and cleared a 200 meter path through the boulders.

During the press event, Chen Yi-feng (陳義豐), head of a special search and rescue team from the National Fire Agency under the Ministry of the Interior, lauded a team of seven Turkish rescue workers who arrived in Taiwan Saturday to provide assistance with rescue operations.

Turkey expressed its willingness to offer assistance shortly after the April 3 earthquake and dispatched a search and rescue team equipped with advanced drones to affected areas, in return for Taiwan's humanitarian assistance by sending a search and rescue team to Turkey in February 2023 after a shallow, magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck the country's southern Kahramanmaraş Province on Feb. 6, according to Chen.

In addition to conducting general search and rescue operations, Taiwan and Turkey's earthquake relief workers successfully captured images using drones of Taroko and Provincial Highway 8 connecting Hehuanshan and Tianxiang in Taroko to help overcome the challenges faced by rescue missions in mountainous terrain, Chen said.

Also on Sunday, the Presidential Office issued a statement expressing gratitude to the Turkish government for dispatching drone experts to Taiwan to help with earthquake relief work.

The magnitude 7.2 earthquake, the strongest to hit Taiwan in nearly 25 years, struck offshore of Hualien in eastern Taiwan at 7:58 a.m. on April 3. It was felt across the island and has left at least 13 people dead and more than 1,000 injured.

(By Lee Hsien-feng and Evelyn Kao)

Enditem/AW

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April 7

Donations for quake relief top NT$116.84 million as rescue effort continues

● Filipino envoy visits Hualien, expresses Manila's sympathy over quake

April 6:Bolivia expressing concern to China over Taiwan quake 'serious mistake': MOFA

April 5:Earthquake survivor's horrifying account: Rocks falling like bullets

April 4:Over 360 aftershocks strike Taiwan following magnitude 7.2 quake

April 3: Taiwan earthquake island's strongest in 25 years: CWA

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