Taipei, March 24 (CNA) About 800 servicemen were mobilized Thursday to take part in a large-scale disaster drill held by a local government in central Taiwan as part of an effort to improve the country's disaster response.
The drill, hosted by the Nantou County government, simulated various disaster scenes resulting from a severe typhoon and a powerful earthquake.
President Ma Ying-jeou, senior Taiwanese officials, and representatives from 45 countries observed the exercise, as part of an international exchange program in the field of humanitarian assistance.
One of the scenarios, set up at the National Fire Agency's Training Center, simulated a mudslide caused by an approaching typhoon, with four people trapped and one missing.
The emergency response involved an evacuation procedure and a supply drop by an Army UH-60M helicopter.
In another simulation, a new disaster alert system developed by the central government was used to send messages to people's mobile phones to notify them of a magnitude 7.1 earthquake that had hit central Taiwan, with its epicenter in Nantou.
A search-and-rescue mission, comprising soldiers, was also deployed to the site of a collapsed building, where advanced life detectors were used to locate possible survivors.
The Air Force also got involved in the earthquake drill, using one of its EC225 rescue helicopters to airlift people who were trapped in two cars that plunged into a river when a bridge in a remote area collapsed.
A total of 815 military personnel took part in the exercise, alongside police, firefighters, and members of private rescue organizations, according to the Ministry of National Defense.
The military usually participates in the annual disaster drills held by local governments, in a bid to improve disaster response in Taiwan, a country prone to earthquakes and typhoons, the ministry said.
Alongside the drill, there was also a display of various military equipment and vehicles that have been used in emergency rescue missions in Taiwan, most recently after a magnitude 6.4 earthquake in southern Taiwan in February, which caused the collapse of several buildings in Tainan. (By Elaine Hou)