Hualien quake brings outpouring of charity

Hsu Tang-yu (許棠育), from Taichung's Fengyuan showed up at the site on Feb. 8, to greet rescuers with bowls of noodles from her mobile ramen cart. (photo by CNA)

Taipei, Feb. 11 (CNA) The outpouring of sympathy and assistance for victims in the wake of the earthquake that hit Hualien County in eastern Taiwan on Feb. 6 has been inspirational and a testament to the high level of social cohesion in the country.

When rescue workers scrambled to search a partially collapsed multi-story building for missing residents feared trapped inside, Hsu Tang-yu (許棠育), from Taichung’s Fengyuan showed up at the site on Feb. 8, to greet rescuers with bowls of noodles from her mobile ramen cart.

Hsu said that as a victim of a magnitude 7.7 temblor that struck the central county of Nantou on Sept. 21, 1999, killing more than 2,400 people, she knows what it is like to feel helpless and terrified during an earthquake.

Noting that she experienced first hand the support, warmth and love of people from across the country in 1999, Hsu said she and her husband decided to head to Hualien to help however they could, driving 13 hours from Taichung.

After finding abundant relief supplies at two emergency temporary shelters, the couple turned to Tsai Shu-hsiang (蔡淑香), the curator of Hualien City Library and person in charge of coordinating the relief effort, to see how they could best help.

Husband and wife then moved to the Yun Men Tsui Ti building where they cooked for rescue workers who continued to search for people missing.

By the side of Hsu’s noodle cart was a team of traditional Chinese medicine practitioners led by Lee Mai (李麥) who set up a station there to treat rescuers suffering from back pain and sore muscles.

In addition, a volunteer group visited the site Friday to pray for victims of the earthquake.

Hualien quake brings outpouring of charity, and relief supplies all over the country have arrived in the area. (photo by CNA)

Rescue workers ended their search for bodies buried in the rubble of the partially toppled Yun Men Tsui Ti building on Sunday after 106 hours of work, with the death toll standing at 16, one person still unaccounted for and 285 injured.

As of noon on Sunday, nearly NT$600 million (US$20.46 million) in donations had poured into Hualien to help earthquake victims and reconstruction work.

(By Sunrise Huang, Liu Kuan-ting, Matt Yu and Evelyn Kao)