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Taiwan's space programme offers tsunami satellite images to aid relief
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  • TAIPEI (AFP) Dec 29, 2004
    Taiwan's national space programme offered Wednesday its satellite images of the damage caused by powerful tsunamis that ravaged Asia at the weekend to affected countries and aid groups for free.

    The National Space Programme Office (NSPO) normally charges 3,000 euros (4,080 dollars) for each photograph covering an area of 600 square kilometres (240 square miles), the office said.

    The images would be provided free of charge to affected countries and had been posted on NSPO's website, programme head Lance Wu said.

    Its images of badly hit Puhket island in Thailand and Indonesia's Banda Aceh were probably among the first taken of the huge waves that killed thousands of people on Sunday, it said.

    Some had been immediately sent to foreign ministries and research centers in countries with which Taiwan had diplomatic contact.

    But Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory, only has diplomatic ties with 26 countries, the majority of the world's nations choosing to recognise Beijing instead.

    "The problem is that all those countries do not maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan," Wu said.

    "We are not sure which countries and which responsible units would need these satellite images," he said, explaining the decision to post the pictures on the www.nspo.org.tw website.

    The Taiwan's FORMOSAT-2 satellite would continue taking images for another week of seriously damaged areas including the west coast of Thailand, Sumatra of Indonesia, the east coast of India, Sri Lanka and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

    "Hopefully the free photos would help those countries hit by the tsunamis make a precise analysis while launching various rescue and rehabilitation programmes," NSPO official Liu Yung-nien said.

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