Taipei, Feb. 10 (CNA) A seven-person team of Japanese specialists that arrived in Hualien earlier this week to assist in search and rescue work in the wake of an earthquake that hit the eastern county late Tuesday, is scheduled to leave Taiwan on Sunday, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ministry spokesperson Andrew Lee (???) said after arriving in Taiwan on Thursday, the Japanese emergency medical technicians (EMTs) have concluded their work providing assistance to Taiwanese rescue teams who have been searching for survivors for over 80 hours since the temblor hit.
President Tsai Ing-wen (???) expressed gratitude to the Japanese rescue team for their relief efforts to the Hualien earthquake.
The epicenter of the magnitude 6.0 earthquake was at sea, about 18.3 kilometers north of Hualien County Hall, at the relatively shallow depth of 10km, according to the Central Weather Bureau.
The impact of the temblor was magnified by its 7 on Taiwan's 7-tier intensity scale -- which measures the severity of shaking -- in certain areas, causing several buildings to partially collapse, including the 41-year-old Marshal Hotel in downtown Hualien City.
Following intensified search efforts, which located three bodies in the Yun Men Tsui Ti residential and commercial building earlier Saturday, the death toll rose to 15, with 280 people injured and two still unaccounted for.
Those two missing individuals are believed to be in the Yun Men Tsui Ti building with the three whose bodies were found at about noon on Saturday. The five are members of a Chinese family who were visiting Hualien when the earthquake struck.
Lee said after communicating with the emergency operations center, the Japanese EMT specialists decided their help is no longer needed, particularly the use of high tech detection equipment to determine the location of individuals trapped but still alive, and so plan to return to Japan Sunday morning.
Lee said the ministry is grateful for the assistance provided by Japan. Tokyo was among the first to offer assistance and support following the Hualien earthquake. According to local media reports, the Japanese rescue team did not enter the collapsed buildings itself, but rather instructed Taiwanese teams how to use the equipment. The two sides worked together well.
The well-trained Japanese rescue team came to Taiwan at the request of the Taiwan government.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said earlier this week that Japan still remembers Taiwan's immense help in the wake of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and will provide any assistance its longtime friend needs.
Source: Focus Taiwan