Donations from Taiwan pour in as Turkey struck by earthquake

Taiwanese made donations to a Turkish NGO that sent a rescue team to the island after disastrous 1999 earthquake

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AKUT Association finished search-and-rescue missions Jan. 27. (AKUT Association Facebook photo)

AKUT Association finished search-and-rescue missions Jan. 27. (AKUT Association Facebook photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s donations to a Turkish disaster rescue organization after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake shook Turkey last week evoke the friendship established between the peoples of the two countries two decades ago.

The earthquake, which struck the eastern Turkish province of Elazig last Friday (Jan. 24), killed 41 people and injured more than 1,600, according to the country’s disaster relief agency. The AKUT Association, a non-governmental organization that conducts search-and-rescue operations during disasters, mobilized 126 volunteers and four dogs after the quake, rescuing eight people and discovering three bodies.

The association was reportedly amazed to have received a large number of donations from Taiwan after the quake as well as messages from Taiwanese on social media. Taiwan was the next largest source of donations after Turkey, said AKUT Secretary-General Zeynep Aktosun, expressing her appreciation for the Taiwanese people.

Aktosun noted that some Taiwanese had even translated the donation information from Turkish into Chinese so that others could donate more easily. Donations are very important for the organization, but the messages from Taiwan have offered even more encouragement to the team, said Aktosun, adding that some volunteers were moved to tears after reading them.

The outpouring of resources and support from Taiwan to Turkey was an act of reciprocation in light of the generosity AKUT provided to Taiwan two decades ago. The Turkish organization was the first foreign rescue team that came to Taiwan’s aid after a catastrophic earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 hit the island on Sept. 21, 1999.

The 1999 earthquake took more than 2,000 lives and brought down thousands of homes throughout the country. AKUT is remembered for sending a team of 17 to central Taiwan and successfully rescuing a resident who had been trapped in the rubble of a housing complex for 50 hours, reports said.