China - Taiwan Province

Taiwan Earthquake Fact Sheet # 5

U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (USAID)
BUREAU FOR HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE (BHR)
OFFICE OF U.S. FOREIGN DISASTER ASSISTANCE (OFDA)

Overview of Situation:

The USAID Search and Rescue (SAR) Team reports 2,146 people dead, 8,137 injured and approximately 300 others still trapped in the rubble.

Most of the victims are from the central city of Taichung and nearby Nantou.

Nantou authorities estimate 100,000 people have been left homeless. A sports stadium in Nantou has been converted into an emergency medical clinic, and homeless residents are camping on the field. Thousands are camping out overnight due to the destruction of their homes or fear of further collapse.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reports that the transportation network and communications are severely disrupted in the central, mountainous area, and affected towns are without adequate water supply.

The head of the Taiwan Economic Ministry's statistics department indicates a mixed effect on Taiwan's economy, citing a negative impact on the manufacturing industry, but increased production of iron, steel and cement for reconstruction. (Agentur Deutsche Press)

Taiwan agricultural authorities report the earthquake destroyed 193 grain warehouses with 82,000 metric tons of rice; however, sufficient domestic supplies remain to meet their needs.

USAID Response:

USAID has provided $25,000 through the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) to meet critical needs of those affected. AIT manages the United States Government's unofficial relations with Taiwan and will channel the assistance through the local Red Cross. USAID also has committed $2,386,200 for the cost of the SAR Team (including mobilization costs). Additionally, the Department of Defense funded $42,000 for body bags and $42,000 for their transport. (Note: These figures are preliminary and subject to change once finalized.)

AIT sent representatives to Nantou to verify the status of the American community. AIT confirms that one American child was killed in the earthquake and two American citizens were injured.

USAID's 92-person SAR team is composed of USAID disaster specialists, Fairfax County, Virginia SAR specialists, and Miami-Dade, Florida SAR specialists. The SAR team began operations on September 22 in Touliu, an urban area that is approximately 32 miles from the epicenter in Nantou County, and on September 23, the SAR team rescued a 32-year old male.

Based on consultations with local emergency response officials, the USAID Team has ceased operations in Touliu and re-deployed to Taipei. The team is scheduled to return to the United States on Sunday, September 26.

Four Fairfax County and Miami-Dade SAR personnel joined the United Nations On-Site Operations and Coordination Center (OSOCC) and will continue to work in a safety and advisory role today.

Local Response Efforts:

Taiwan authorities have established emergency response centers in Taipei, Nantou, Changhua, and Taichung. The centers coordinate work sector assignments for SAR teams.

The United Nations OSOCC reports Taiwan authorities established a local donor distribution center in the city of Fengyun, where large quantities of relief materials and food are being provided to victims.

Taiwan authorities are deploying local rescue workers to remote, affected rural areas.

Local authorities and the Red Cross cite clean water as an urgent need; generators, tents and communications support are also priority needs.

Water has been released from the Sun Moon Lake dam south of Puli to prevent further damage and diminish any potential threat to the population.

International Response/Coordination Efforts:

Cable News Network (CNN) reports that a South Korean SAR team pulled a live 6-year-old boy out of the rubble at approximately 9:30 p.m. local time on September 25, approximately 87 hours after the earthquake.

InterAction reports that U.S. private voluntary organizations (PVOs) are responding to the earthquake: several are accepting contributions of funds to channel to victims of the disaster. PVO activities include shipment and/or distribution of supplies (medical supplies, water storage containers, personal hygiene products, food, clothing, blankets, sleeping bags, tents), water purification, and counseling for victims.

The American Red Cross provided $100,000 to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The Red Cross Society of China offered $100,000 to the Taiwan Red Cross Organization and $60,000 worth of relief supplies.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) will contribute $500,000 for emergency supplies, and Italy is sending $200,000 worth of emergency aid.

Public Donation Information:

USAID has activated its 1-800-USAID-RELIEF phone bank to advise callers that monetary donations to private voluntary organizations currently working in Taiwan are the best way to assure that useful assistance reaches those in need.

Information on this subject also can be found on USAID's website at www.info.usaid.gov/taiwan/.

Background:

An earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale at 0147 local time September 21, 1999 struck Taiwan. The epicenter was located 12.5 km west of Sun-Moon Lake in rural Nantou County in Central Taiwan, and has been followed by a series of aftershocks.

There has been substantial damage to housing and infrastructure, especially in Taichung City and Nantou. Numerous high rise structures have collapsed or are uninhabitable, including buildings in Taichung, Chunghwa and Yunlin counties. Taipei suffered relatively little damage.

Bridges and roads leading into the central region were badly damaged, complicating the delivery of relief supplies and equipment, although major airports continue to function normally.

Contact Information:

Media - USAID Press Officer at (202) 712-4320
Public Information Center - (202) 712-4810
Congressional Liaison - (202) 712-4330