Taiwan willing to help after Sichuan earthquake

Taipei, Aug. 9 (CNA) Taiwan is willing to help and offer all necessary assistance, the Presidential Office said Wednesday, after a strong earthquake struck a popular tourist spot in Sichuan Province in southwestern China on Tuesday night. "We are willing to help and provide all necessary assistance" in order to minimize the damage incurred by the disaster, the Presidential Office said in a statement. "As we send our condolences and concern to the victims, we also pray that people in areas hit by the earthquake can rebuild their homes as soon as possible," it said. The Executive Yuan issued a similar statement earlier Wednesday, expressing sadness for the victims and voicing its willingness to help with relief efforts. As of late Wednesday morning, the death toll from the magnitude 6.5 earthquake that jolted the famous Jiuzhaigou National Park had risen to 13, with more than 175 people injured. More than 300 Taiwanese tourists with 19 tour groups were confirmed to be in Jiuzhaigou at the time of the temblor, but all of them were relocated to safety and none were injured, according to the Tourism Bureau in Taipei.