Israel's representative office in Taiwan has donated over 100 earthquake-proof tables to Tainan, in southern Taiwan, which was struck by a magnitude 6.6 earthquake in February.
Following the Tainan earthquake, Israel's representative to Taiwan, Asher Yarden, decided to cancel the office's annual celebration for Israel's independence day in May, and instead used the budget to purchase 117 Israeli-designed tables and donate them to the city in southern Taiwan, according to the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei.
"The relationship between Israel and Taiwan is strong and friendly," Yarden told CNA Friday. Thus, when the earthquake hit Tainan and caused a tragedy, he thought that "it would make more sense to use the budget of our national day reception for the well-being of Tainan and its citizens."
His office also looked for a way to commemorate the 117 victims of the disaster in Tainan, he said. "The earthquake proof tables serve both purposes well, and show how Israeli innovation and creativity can be utilized to save lives in Taiwan," he added.
The earthquake occurred Feb. 6, leaving 117 people dead and hundreds injured. Among those who died, 115 victims were in a single apartment complex located in the city's Yongkang District.
The first batch of 60 tables has already been given to Tainan, with the second and final batch scheduled to arrive soon, the representative office said.
Two of them will be put on display in an exhibition on disaster prevention education at the city's Fire Bureau, and the rest will be donated to eight elementary and junior high schools that were damaged in the quake, the city government said.
The earthquake-proof tables donated to Tainan Municipal Yujing Junior High School (Photo courtesy of the Tainan City government)
In response, Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te (???) expressed gratitude for the move. He also noted that the top Israeli envoy to Taiwan sent a message of sympathy to the city government on the day of the earthquake, and also visited the city in the wake of the temblor.
Meanwhile, the table is also among various Israeli designs on display at the Taiwan Designers' Week, which runs through Oct. 2 in Taipei, the office said.
The earthquake-proof table, designed by professor Ido Bruno and his student Arthur Brutter at the Industrial Design Department under the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, is engineered to shield two students from a ton of debris.
The professor said the student had the idea for the table after seeing some devastating photos of schoolchildren from the earthquake in Haiti in 2010.
"The motivation is to create a simple and accessible means of saving children's lives," Bruno told CNA via e-mail.
The tables are useful in earthquake-prone countries such as Taiwan and Japan, as heavy objects, books and ceiling tiles can fall and injure people in the event of a strong temblor, he said.
Commercial production has begun in a few countries, he said, adding that his team has been working with local manufacturers in Bhutan to produce tables for schools in the kingdom in the eastern Himalaya.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel