TAIPEI, Taiwan - Two days after the gigantic earthquake that tore Nepal apart, the Executive Yuan yesterday held a cross-departmental meeting on the relief work Taiwan could do to help the country cope with the aftermath.
Vice Premier Chang San-cheng said that the relief work Taiwan is gearing up for is spread out between the government and civilian groups.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW) has sent six paramedics as well as two medical personnel from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to Nepals' capital city, Kathmandu, said Chang.
"They will be arriving on April 28, and report to us what is needed regarding the first aid situation in the city. There are two other medical teams awaiting to provide their assistance in Taiwan now ... and as for the supplies, the Council of Agriculture (COA) has prepared dried goods and rice for those in need in Nepal," said Chang.
Civilian organisations like the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation and the Buddha's Light International Association have been sending their own groups of paramedics to the quake-stricken regions in Nepal, and will be cooperating with the government-dispatched teams, said Chang.
Among the Taiwanese tourists in Nepal, 183 have reported their safety to the government and the MOFA is still trying to reach those who remain out of contact, said the Cabinet.
As the airport in Kathmandu is still operating, tourists and visitors are still free to come and go, so the government does not have to assist with tourist evacuation yet.
MOFA Issues Red Travel Alert
According to the Cabinet, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications' Tourism Bureau has formed an emergency team to check on the tour groups that are currently in Nepal, and asked for tours ready to head to Nepal to hold off their travel plans in the face of MOFA's red travel alert.
Under MOFA's four-colour travel alert system, red represents the highest level of warning, with orange following, meaning that travelers should take precautions and avoid unnecessary travel. Then yellow comes one step below, and then gray.
Should the travel agencies cancel their contracts with prospective tourists, the agencies should provide refunds after deducting all necessary funds that were paid before the earthquake.
The Tourism Bureau has established a information and communication platform with MOFA, in order to keep tabs on the safety conditions of Taiwanese tourists currently in Nepal and to provide assistance if needed, until all have returned safely to Taiwan.