|Embassies and Consulates Actively Provide Assistance to Earthquake and Tsunami-Hit countries|
On December 26, the devastating earthquake in Indonesia which resulted in huge tsunami with the strongest force ever seen over the past century inflicted heavy casualties and property losses to a number of countries in Southeast and South Asia.
The outbreak of the disaster drew high attention of the Chinese central government, Chinese embassies and consulates in Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and Malaysia, the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) and the Hong Kong SAR government authorities, which kept close contact and, in addition to actively providing assistance to tsunami-torn countries, have immediately launched the emergency mechanism to make every possible effort to look for and assist the Chinese citizens, including the Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan compatriots caught in the tsunami disaster in related countries. With the coordination of the Office of the Commissioner, related embassies, consulates and the Immigration Department of the Hong Kong SAR administration immediately opened the 24-hour assistance hotline, and the 24-hour hotline of the Consular Department Office of the Commissioner also kept ringing. On the same day of the outbreak of the disaster, Mr. Pan Guangxue, Ministerial Counselor of Chinese embassy in Thailand, arrived at the seriously hit Phuket Island of Thailand with his assistant by air to conduct on-spot search and rescue. At present, in a number of most seriously impacted countries, especially in Thailand, the Chinese consulates have dispatched staffs to places such as hospitals, hotels and temporary shelters to look for Chinese citizens, extend condolences to them and get to know their requirements, try to ensure the injured receive timely treatment, help them apply for temporary certificates and assist them in returning to China as soon as possible. The Chinese embassy in Thailand and the Consulate-General in Songkhla even moved their facilities of producing certificates to the Phuket Island to issue the return visa to those Chinese citizens who lost their certificates in the disaster, which is highly complimented by the parties concerned and the Thai authorities. The rescue work is going on day after night.
The Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China in the Hong Kong SAR has been maintaining close contact with the Hong Kong SAR government and Chinese embassies and consulates in related countries, conveying the latest information about local Hong Kong residents at any moment, and the Immigration Department kept providing those embassies and consulates with updated lists of Hong Kong residents who were possibly caught in the disaster hit areas to facilitate the embassies and consulates' search for those people. At present, according to the lists offered by the SAR government, the whereabouts of 7 people in Malaysia have been identified and 3 were found in India. The Office of the Commissioner has also provided aid to a number of Hong Kong individuals asking for help, assisting them in finding the whereabouts of nearly 10 Hong Kong residents.
The complicated situation in Phuket Island of Thailand where the disaster remained devastating added to difficulties to the search and rescue work, as a result, up to now there still have a large number of Hong Kong compatriots who had traveled in Thailand on the occasion of the outbreak of the disaster remaining missing. In addition to providing assistance to the survivors, the Chinese embassy in Thailand also sends back the updated lists of the dead and injured to the Office of the Commissioner and the SAR government and helps the families of the victims to handle the aftermath. On December 30, the embassy published a notice on local Chinese newspapers, appealing for those Hong Kong compatriots who have yet not contacted their families to report safety to their families and friends quickly, saying that if they have any difficulties in doing so, they can contact the Department of Consular Affairs of the Chinese embassy in Thailand by hotlines 669-7700836, 661-9840658 and 661-8214770.
After the outbreak of the disaster, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and the Chinese embassies and consulates in Thailand and other countries received 28 person times of assistance calls. Some Taiwan compatriots directly request the Chinese embassies and consulates to help with their tourism certificates, and related embassies and consulates provided help in their own power.
Chinese embassies and consulates in related countries will continue to keep close cooperation with the central government, the Hong Kong SAR government authorities and the governments of related countries to push forward the search efforts and provide assistance to Hong Kong compatriots in the disaster hit areas. The Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China in the Hong Kong SAR stands ready to offer help whenever the Hong Kong compatriots encounter difficulties.