TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s donations to Turkey and its rescue team’s arrival in the country following the magnitude 7.8 quake is a reminder of the solidarity that inspired 24 years of friendship between the two countries.
In 1999, just weeks before Taiwan was shaken by the magnitude 7.3 Jiji earthquake on Sept. 21, it had just sent a rescue team to Turkey in the wake of a quake that occurred on Aug. 17.
Later, when the Jiji earthquake struck Taiwan, killing over 2,000 and causing multiple buildings to collapse, Turkey was one of the first countries to send a rescue team. It comprised 36 people and arrived in Taiwan the day after the quake.
This marked a budding bond between the two countries, which has developed and continued until this day.
Turkish rescuers were some of the first to arrive in Taiwan following the major earthquake in September 1999. (CNA image)
On Monday (Feb. 6), after several strong earthquakes struck Turkey, Taiwan’s National Fire Agency immediately made preparations to send a search and rescue team. That evening, the first search and rescue team consisting of 40 people and three dogs boarded a flight bound for Turkey.
On Tuesday (Feb. 7), Taiwan sent a second team of 90 rescuers and two dogs. Turkish media A Haber reported that Taiwan’s search and rescue team arrived with the message, “We are here as a thank you for 1999.”
Taiwan dispatched a first team of 40 rescuers to Turkey hours after the earthquakes struck. (National Fire Agency photo)
As of 2 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 10), the Taiwan rescue team had saved two people from the rubble.
In addition to sending rescuers, members of the public in Taiwan donated NT$83.53 million (US$2.76 million) to the relief aid drive started by the Ministry of Health and Welfare within two days. The fundraising program will continue until at least March 6, according to an earlier report.
President Tsai Ing-wen (second from right) gets updates from Taiwan rescue team leader Huang Po-tsun. (Facebook, Tsai Ing-wen photo)
Tsai, Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德), Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), Vice Premier Tseng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) pledged to donate a month’s salary each. Additionally, Taipei Mayor Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安), New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜), Taoyuan Mayor Simon Chang (張善政), Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕), Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲), and Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) also announced that they would each donate a month’s salary.
In an article published on Thursday (Feb. 9), A Haber cited Taiwan rescue team leader Huang Po-tsun (黃博村) as saying he was reminded of the aid Turkey provided during Taiwan’s own earthquake disaster. “We came right away. We rushed to help … We learned search and rescue thanks to Turkish teams,” he said.
A Taiwanese rescuer in Turkey told a TR Haber reporter during an interview at a search and rescue base that people in Taiwan still remember the help they received from Turkey, which is why they want to give back. The video was posted to Twitter with an introduction that read, “Taiwan is one of the countries rushing to help Turkey. The team's arrival in Turkey is actually a 24-year-old story of loyalty.”
ÖZEL| Türkiye’ye yardıma koşan ülkelerden biri Tayvan. Ekibin Türkiye’ye geliş öyküsü aslında 24 yıllık bir vefa öyküsü.— TRHaber (@trhaber_com) February 8, 2023
“Tayvan’daki büyük depremde Türkiye bize yardım etmişti. Gerçek dostumuza yardım sırası bizde” pic.twitter.com/6jMWyn8LbA