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Earthquakes give boost to Taiwan-Turkey relations

ISTANBUL--Two major earthquakes that struck 13 years ago far apart from each other, have brought two distant countries — Taiwan and Turkey — together on the path of humanitarian aid.

“I was certain that my house was going to collapse,” Turkey-based Taiwanese businessman Faisal Hu recalled the night of Aug. 17, 1999, when a 7.6 earthquake hit Turkey, claiming tens of thousands of lives.

Rescue teams from all over the world rushed to Turkey to help save those trapped under the rubble. But Hu said a feeling of spite began to grow in his heart when days passed and there were no reports of Taiwanese aid coming.

The Muslim said he later learned that the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, one of Taiwan's largest charity groups, had sent a disaster assessment team from Kosovo to Turkey to assist with disaster relief on the second day of the earthquake.

Tzu Chi had donated prefabricated houses and 200 tents to the earthquake victims in Turkey, said Ferhan Merter, a member of Turkish charity Kimse Yok Mu (Is Anybody there?). Merter had assisted Tzu Chi in their earthquake relief at that time.

He told CNA in a recent telephone interview in Istanbul that the two charities have since enjoyed close ties, visiting and learning from each other.

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