Taiwan preparing to send relief supplies to Nepal
Taipei, April 27 (CNA) Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) will assist local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in their efforts to collect and send emergency supplies to Nepal, which was hit last Saturday by a devastating earthquake, a MOFA spokeswoman said Monday.
Several NGOs in Taiwan are also planning to send medical aid to the Himalayan country, said Anna Kao.
A special account has been set up by the Ministry of Health and Welfare for members of the public to make donations to the relief effort, she said.
The Taiwanese government announced Saturday that it would donate US$300,000 to Nepal, just hours after news about the earthquake began to make headlines around the world.
Thousands of people were killed in the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck around noon Saturday (local time) and many others remained buried under the rubble as of Monday.
Soon after the earthquake occurred, Taiwan's representative to India, who happened to be in Kathmandu at the time, contacted Nepalese officials and told them that the Taiwan government was willing to provide assistance, according to Kao.
The Nepalese government decided to first ask neighboring countries to send help and declined Taiwan's offer for the time being, she said. The Nepalese side said it will contact Taipei when more help is needed, she added.
Meanwhile, MOFA will help organize the collection and transportation of blankets, water, food rations and medical supplies to be sent to Nepal and will maintain communication with the Nepalese authorities, Kao said.
Three advance teams from Taiwanese charities will depart Tuesday for Nepal to assess the country's needs as preparations are being made to provide medical help, she said.
Several local governments in Taiwan, including the Taipei City government, had been preparing to send search and rescue teams to Nepal but that offer was declined by the Nepalese government, according to Vice Foreign Minister Andrew Kao.
Answering questions at the Legislative Yuan earlier in the day, the vice minister said that Kathmandu so far has only asked for assistance in search and rescue efforts from neighboring countries like China, India and Pakistan and cited the great distance and the lack of direct flights and diplomatic relations for declining Taiwan's offer.
(By Hsieh Chia-chen and Jay Chen)