A 20-member medical team assembled by the Red Cross Society of the Republic of China (ROC) departed for Xining in western China yesterday to provide assistance to survivors of a deadly magnitude 7.1 earthquake that struck on Wednesday.
Chang Huan-chen (張煥禎), leader of the team and superintendent of Lishin Hospital in Taoyuan County, said before departure that the team consists of medical personnel from Taipei City Hospital, National Cheng Kung University Hospital in Tainan City and Lishin Hospital.
Chang, whose experience includes relief work in the wake of the Sept. 21, 1999, quake in central Taiwan, the earthquake of May 12, 2008, in Sichuan Province, China, and other disasters, said the team was taking 1,000kg of medicine, the maximum allowed because of limited airlift capacity in the disaster area.
Most of the medicine would be used for preliminary surgery, Chang said.
Given that the disaster area is located at an altitude of 4,000m, Chang expected the weather to pose a severe challenge for his team, although each member was equipped with up to 15kg of gear that included a heavy coat and medicine for altitude sickness.
The medical team was expected to arrive in Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province, yesterday evening via Hong Kong and Beijing.
Meanwhile, Cheng Zongliang (陳宗良), a spokesman for China’s Red Cross Society in Beijing, expressed gratitude for the assistance offered by its Taiwanese counterpart.
Cheng told China’s Xinhua news agency that the Taiwanese medical team would work in the disaster area for a week.
The magnitude 7.1 quake has killed more than 1,700 and left more than 12,000 injured, officials said.
The death toll is expected to climb as 312 people are still unaccounted for and hopes of finding any more survivors are fading.
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