A Japanese company is providing ground penetrating radar technology free of charge to help the quake-hit city of Hualien in eastern Taiwan detect sinkholes under roads during reconstruction.

Tokyo-based Geo Search Co. will survey 50 kilometers of road in Hualien, which was struck by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in April, over four days through Thursday and analyze the collected data for up to three weeks for subsurface anomalies that could develop into sinkholes or cause other disastrous collapses.

A Geo Search Co. vehicle surveys a road in Hualien, Taiwan, for subsurface anomalies on May 14, 2024. (Kyodo)

The data will then be provided to the authorities for reference as they repair roads, Geo Search said. The company also volunteered to conduct similar surveys after a deadly magnitude 6.4 quake struck eastern Taiwan in February 2018.

Masatoshi Okamura, a senior Geo Search official, said the company is providing the service free of charge to thank Taiwan for offering assistance when Japan is impacted by earthquakes. The Japanese firm opened a Taipei office in 2019.

An apartment building is seen leaning in Hualien, eastern Taiwan, on April 5, 2024, following a powerful earthquake on April 3. (Kyodo) 

"I think there is a very important connection between Taiwan and Japan, because we have a good relationship just like a family," Okamura told Kyodo News.

The April 3 temblor, the strongest earthquake to hit Taiwan in 25 years, claimed 18 lives and injured more than 1,100 people.

Masatoshi Okamura of Geo Search Co. operates devices inside a vehicle in Hualien, Taiwan, on May 14, 2024. (Kyodo) 

Hualien Mayor Wei Chia-yen thanked Geo Search for offering its assistance for the second time to reduce potential road disasters, saying city residents will "remember the warmth in their hearts."

"A friend in need is a friend indeed," the mayor added.

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