Public outrage over the government's failure to rescue four workers washed away in Pachang Creek (
"On behalf of the government, I apologize to the people and society," Tang said during a news conference yesterday afternoon, saying that the government was still investigating and clarifying who was responsible and that the result would be out by this morning at the latest.
Four workers carrying out riverbed construction work in Pachang Creek were surrounded by the quickly rising torrent on Saturday afternoon. The four stood in the center of the river for three hours, waiting for a helicopter that never came, and were finally washed away at around 7:08pm in sight of family members and helpless would-be rescuers on the riverbank.
PHOTO: CHEN CHING-MIN, LIBERTY TIMES
The body of one victim, Lin Chung-ho (
The sight of the four, two of them a couple, embracing each other and resisting the torrent was seen by the nation on television.
The family members and friends of the dead and disappeared yesterday protested against the Air Force base at their Chiayi base, for their not having dispatched a rescue helicopter.
PHOTO: CHEN CHING-MIN, LIBERTY TIMES
Strong reaction also came from the main opposition parties.
"There is no difference between this kind of incompetent government and a murderer," PFP spokesman Sun Ta-chien (孫大千) said at a press conference yesterday.
The KMT said that the government is "slow in rescuing and swift in shifting responsibility."
Tang Fei, on the other hand, promised to severely punish those responsible and improve the rescue system.
"We will make an overall re-examination of related regulations and make immediate reforms to clarify responsibilities and establish a unified co-ordination mechanism. We will also seek the resolution of any inadequacy of staff or equipment. Top priority will be given to improving efficiency and saving people's lives," Tang said.
Though he said that an investigation of responsibility needed to be very carefully carried out, he hinted that the Fire Department of Chiayi County had made a wrong report in the first place.
"The Fire Department should have known that when the site of the incident is under the height of 2,500m the request (for a helicopter) should be made to the airborne police (rather than the Air Force), and this is a focus of our investigation," Tang said.
According to Chiayi County Fire Department, they requested help from the Air Force's Chiayi base at 5:55pm and turned to the air police at 6:20pm when their request was denied by the Air Force.
The Air Force at the time told the Fire Department that according to regulations it was the air police's job to carry out rescues in areas under the height of 2,500m.
But the nearest air police base was in Taichung, and when the helicopter took off at around 7:10pm, the victims had already been swept away, according to Chiayi Fire Department records.
Asked if such regulations might have hindered the rescue work, Tang Fei said that the division of tasks was necessary because the resources of any rescue unit are limited.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut