Taiwan offers condolences over China earthquake, prepares to send rescuers

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TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s government on Tuesday expressed condolences to China over the earthquake in Sichuan province and said it was ready to send rescue workers, a sign of goodwill toward Beijing despite weeks of military tensions.

China, which claims democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory despite fierce objections from the government in Taipei, has been conducting exercises around the island after visiting US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month.

Taiwan’s presidential office said President Tsai Ing-wen had expressed “sympathy and concern” after the earthquake that struck southwest China on Monday, killing at least 46 people. Read more

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Apart from her condolences to those who died and their families, Tsai hopes that search and rescue work and post-disaster recovery can proceed smoothly and normal life resume as soon as possible.

She added that the office was not aware of any injuries in Taiwan.

Separately, the Taiwan Fire Department said it has assembled a rescue team of 40 people, one search dog and five tons of equipment that can leave immediately if instructed to do so, saying it “is committed to the spirit of humanitarian care and borderless disaster relief.”

China has not said whether it will allow outside teams to assist in search and rescue operations.

Taiwan, which often suffers from earthquakes, sent a team to China in 2008 after a massive earthquake hit the same province in Sichuan, killing nearly 70,000 people and causing extensive damage.

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(Ben Blanchard Report). Editing by Kim Coogle and Lincoln Fest

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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