Taipei, March 24 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou called for greater opportunities for Taiwan to share its experience in providing disaster relief and humanitarian assistance with other countries, after he inspected a disaster drill held in central Taiwan Thursday.
The government has made every effort to strengthen its disaster response after Taiwan was hit by Typhoon Morakot in 2009, which caused hundreds of casualties and severe destruction in central and southern Taiwan, according to Ma. "We've turned from a passive attitude to an active one," Ma said, adding that the government moved to pay greater attention to disaster prevention measures after it learned a lesson from the experience of Morakot.
Since 2010, local governments in Taiwan's 22 cities and counties have been participating in annual disaster drills in cooperation with the ministries of national defense and interior, Ma said in his speech after inspecting the drill hosted by the Nantou County government.
Due to the efforts over the past few years, Taiwan has been able to reduce possible disasters and casualties brought by typhoons, he said at the Training Center under the Ministry of the Interior's National Fire Agency.
With 66 different facilities to practice disaster response, the center is seen as the largest in Asia, Ma said.
The center not only provides training to local personnel but also offers training programs for other countries, he said.
Teams from Hawaii, South Korea and the Philippines have undergone training at the center over the past few years, he added.
Noting Taiwan's efforts to enhance its disaster relief capabilities and provide humanitarian assistance, Ma said the country has extended a helping hand by making donations and sending rescue teams to many countries in need over the years.
The president also noted that Taiwan's experience in disaster prevention is worth sharing with other countries.
Lauding the performance of participating personnel in Thursday's drill, Ma said he hopes there will be more opportunities for them to share their experiences with their counterparts from other countries.
"Hopefully, our experience will be helpful to other countries," he said. The drill was observed by more than 100 representatives from 45 countries, including Japan, Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, the United States and Taiwan's diplomatic allies in Africa and Central America, according to the Ministry of National Defense.
Thursday's drill included military personnel, firefighters, police and members of private rescue organizations.
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, which are likely to trigger complex disasters, the ministry said. (By Elaine Hou)