Japanese PM sends condolences over Hualien earthquake (update)

Tokyo, Feb. 8 (CNA) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a letter of condolences Thursday to President Tsai Ing-wen (???) over the strong earthquake that hit Hualien County in eastern Taiwan late Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a photo of Chinese calligraphy written by Abe showing the characters for "Taiwan, Go" to encourage people in Taiwan affected by the temblor is on display on the Facebook page of the prime minister's official residence.

In the letter, Abe expressed sadness at the devastation caused by the earthquake.

Abe said that Japan still remembers the outpouring of support rendered by Taiwanese people in the wake of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan, and that Japan will offer any needed assistance to its longtime friend.

He said the Japanese government has dispatched a special fire and rescue team to the earthquake-ravaged county to help the relief efforts.

Abe posted a video of himself writing the calligraphy message of support and encouragement for Taiwan to his personal Facebook page in the afternoon.

Japan stands with the people of Taiwan during this difficult time, he says in the video.

Tsai tweeted Abe's Facebook photo of the calligraphy, writing in her post that the Japanese Prime Minister's expression of concern over the Hualien earthquake is a testament to the strong friendship between Taiwan and Japan.

She is hoping the 7-member specialist team, which arrived in Taiwan at about 2 p.m. Thursday, will be able to help rescue more survivors from the rubble.

As of 4 p.m. Thursday, the death toll in the Hualien earthquake stood at nine, with 270 injured and eight remaining unaccounted for, according to Hualien's Emergency Operations Center.

Source: Focus Taiwan