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1st Taiwanese rescue team wraps up mission in Haiti

ROC Central News Agency

2010/01/19 16:37:30
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 18 (CNA) After its success in rescuing an earthquake survivor in Haiti, the first Taiwanese search and rescue team that was dispatched to the Caribbean country wrapped up its emergency relief mission here Monday.

The squad, which was assembled by Taiwan's National Fire Agency, left the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince for the neighboring Dominican Republic Monday evening in preparation for its return to Taipei via the United States.

Team leader Lin Chien-chih told the Central News Agency prior to his departure that the humanitarian relief experience in Haiti was a memorable one because the team succeeded in rescuing a survivor, a 45-year-old Haitian security guard at the U.N. peacekeeping headquarters.

"I was almost reduced to tears when the Haitian man was pulled from the rubble Sunday after having been trapped for five days, " Lin said, adding that it was a great honor for him to be able to take part in the humanitarian disaster relief operations in Haiti on behalf of his country.

Lin said that in the process of its operations, the team received much assistance from Taiwan's overseas offices, including the Republic of China embassies in the Dominican Republic and Haiti and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in New York, as well as from individual Taiwanese businessmen.

"We also learned much during the Haitian mission through personnel and technological exchanges with rescue teams from other countries," Lin said.

The Taiwan team was able to obtain information about the latest developments in search and rescue skills and equipment, he said.

"The Haitian experience has also helped us to realize that there is room for our team to improve, particularly in terms of working with foreign search teams, on-site coordination and inspection, and foreign language skills," Lin said.

In the future, Taiwan should become even more involved in international humanitarian relief work to gain greater experience and update its search and rescue technologies, he suggested.

Lin said he was satisfied with the team members' expert operations of the sonar equipment that is used to identify the locations of trapped survivors.

In addition to rescuing the Haitian security guard, the team also helped to locate a French survivor using its sonar equipment. The follow-up excavation work to rescue the French survivor from the rubble was carried out by American specialists.

Chen Shih-liang, a squad member from Taichung County, said he will never forget the moment when the Haitian man was rescued because it was a "once-in-a-lifetime experience." The NFA team was composed of two sniffer dogs and 23 search and rescue specialists from the NFA's special service division and the fire departments of Taichung County Government and Kaohsiung City Government. The team took more than 2,000 kilograms of rescue equipment on the mission to Haiti.

The members are scheduled to return to Taipei Jan. 22.

(By K.C. Huang and Sofia Wu) enditem /pc

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