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Fri, Sep 14, 2001 - Page 4 News List

Local charities reach out to victims

CONDOLENCES At least three Taiwan religious groups have mobilized to render relief assistance to the US after the nation was struck by terrorist attacks

CNA , TAIPEI

Taiwan's government has ordered all of its offices in the US to fly the national flag at half-mast yesterday to mourn the victims of Tuesday's terrorist attacks in the US.

"The government has made the decision in consideration of the long-standing strong ties between our two countries," Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Katherine Chang (張小月) said at a news conference yesterday.

Despite the absence of formal diplomatic ties, substantive Taiwan-US relations have been solid and cordial, Chang said, adding that foreign embassies and representative offices in Taiwan also flew their national flags at half-mast after the devastating 921 earthquake rattled Taiwan, which left more than 2,400 people dead and tens of thousands homeless.

Chang further said that since Tuesday's coordinated terrorist attacks destroyed New York's landmark World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon, the ministry has contacted major local non-government organizations and private associations to see whether they can assist in US post-attack rescue and relief operations.

"Local rescue teams are willing to fly to the US to take part in search and rescue work once the US government lifts the country-wide flight ban," Chang said.

Meanwhile, he said a total of nine Taiwan expatriates and ethnic Chinese inside the towers of the World Trade Center at the time of the attack remain unaccounted for.

Reports from Los Angeles also showed that four passengers aboard the two hijacked American Airlines planes might be Chinese. They were identified as Deng Lee, Shuyin Yang, Yuguag Zheng and Danny Lee. All passengers and crew aboard the two planes were killed in the incidents. One of the planes slammed into a World Trade Center tower and the other into the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, at least three Taiwan religious groups have mobilized to render relief assistance to the US after the nation was struck by heinous terror attacks Tuesday.

The Buddhist Compassionate Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, under directives by Tzu Chi founder Master Cheng Yen (証嚴法師), put its rescue and relief service centers in New York City, Long Island and the neighboring state of New Jersey into operation the day after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington.

In addition to establishing an operations center in southern California Wednesday as an instruction nerve center for rescue and relief work in the US, the Tzu Chi Foundation also vowed to offer round-the-clock relief services which people in need could get access to by telephoning 0021-626-357-2123 or sending an e-mail to INFO@us.tzuchi.org, a spokeswoman for the Hualien-based charity organization said.

Tzu Chi volunteers residing in New York, several of whom experienced "life and death" ordeals before narrowly escaping from the twin towers of the World Trade Center, which both collapsed not long after being struck by passenger planes hijacked by terrorists, have pitched in with relief work since the day of the attacks, which US President George W. Bush termed "acts of war."

The Fo Kuang Shan (佛光山) Foundation for Buddhist Culture and Education, headquartered in the southern Taiwan city of Kaohsiung, put its Fo Kuang Emergency and Relief Center in New York into operation Wednesday for round-the-clock assistance for victims of the attacks.

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