No Filipino hurt in Taiwan quake: MECO

2024 April 3

QUAKE AFTERMATH. This photo taken on April 3, 2024 shows a damaged residential building in Hualien, southeast China’s Taiwan. A 7.2-magnitude earthquake jolted the sea area near Hualien of China’s Taiwan at 7:58 a.m. Wednesday (Beijing Time), according to the China Earthquake Networks Center. (Xinhua photo)

MANILA – No Filipino national has been reported hurt or among the fatalities following a strong earthquake that struck Taiwan on Wednesday morning.

In a statement, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) said all Filipinos and overseas Filipino workers on the island are “all accounted for and safe”.

“We are thankful that we have not received reports of any of our kababayans (fellow Filipinos) being hurt or badly affected by the powerful earthquake that hit Taiwan this morning,” MECO Chairperson Silvestre Bello III said.

“Based on our monitoring in Taipei and the reports from our field offices in Taichung and Kaohsiung, and the reports coming from our Filipino communities in Taiwan, there are no Filipino casualties or injuries in the aftermath of the earthquake and the aftershocks,” he added.

There are 159,480 Filipinos in Taiwan, 150,666 of whom are overseas Filipino workers, according to the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).

 Taiwan was hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake past 7 a.m. on April 3, with the epicenter recorded some 25 kilometers southeast of Hualien County, the strongest tremor to hit the island in over two decades.

Reports from the local media said at least 44 people were injured while four died.

Taipei-based Central News Agency said three of the fatalities were hikers who were struck by falling rocks at the entrance to Taroko Gorge.

Prayers

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (CBCP-ECMI), meanwhile, will offer prayers for those affected by the strong earthquake in Taiwan.

“We pray for them, and we have asked our Filipino chaplains to offer Holy Masses for safety, sound Health and our almighty God in His mercy and power may bring comfort and healing to those who afflicted, pacify and stop earthquakes and tremors,” CBCP-ECMI vice chair Bishop Ruperto Santos said in a statement.

The Antipolo prelate also expressed solidarity with the Taiwanese people, as well as with Filipinos in the island.

“We are also worried about their well-being and welfare. We are one and united with them, especially with Filipino migrants,” Santos added.

DMW opens 24/7 Taiwan Quake Help Desk for OFWs

Meanwhile, the Department of Migrant Workers said it is opening a 24/7 Taiwan Quake Help Desk to help Filipinos in the island, and provide information to their relatives in the Philippines who want to find out about their status and condition.

The Philippine-based 24/7 Help Desk may be reached through hotline numbers 8522-3663 / 8376-6352 / 8426-0833 / 8293-9155 / 8252-1972; mobile numbers +63 919 067 3975, or via email at repat@dmw.gov.ph.

Taiwan hotline numbers are: +886 932-218-057 in Taipei; +886 988-976-596 in Kaoshiung; and +886 966-537-732 in Taichung.

Ensuring safety of OFWs

Several senators have called on concerned agencies to act on the possible concerns of OFWs in Taiwan.

“Following the earthquake in Taiwan this morning, it is imperative that the DMW swiftly account for every OFW in Taiwan who may have been affected by the tremor. The DMW must urgently ensure that the needs of every Filipino who may have been displaced or injured are promptly addressed,” Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said in a statement.

Senator Lito Lapid urged MECO in Taiwan to immediately check on the condition of Filipinos there, underscoring the agency’s mandate to help migrant workers over their welfare, safety and promotion of economic and cultural relations in the island.

Other lawmakers, meanwhile, expressed their sympathies to the people of Taiwan.

In a statement, Senator Grace Poe expressed her “deepest sympathies” to the people of Taiwan affected by the earthquake, and expressed her support as well for individuals providing emergency assistance and rescue efforts on the ground.

“We are confident that with the resilience and hard work of the Taiwanese people, they will recover from this tragedy and rebuild their communities anew,” Poe said.

“As home to thousands of Filipinos, we hope our countrymen in the impacted areas are out of harm’s way,” she added.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III also expressed his “solidarity” with Taiwan, and offered unwavering support for rebuilding and recovery.

“Our thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones, homes, and livelihoods in this tragic event,” Pimentel said. “The Taiwanese people’s resilience will help them overcome the challenges and emerge stronger.”

He also urged the DFA to prioritize the welfare of affected Filipinos, ensuring their safety and well-being. 

Joyce Ann L. Rocamora (PNA)