Mon, Aug 10, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Downpour continues to pummel south

WASHED AWAY In Taitung County, stores were swept up by the Jhihben River and a hotel collapsed into the waters. Guests and staff had already been evacuated

By Meggie Lu, Shelley Shan and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Meanwhile, the Kaohsiung City Government dispatched personnel to assist flood-ravaged Kaohsiung and Pingtung counties.

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) said at a city government meeting that 81 officials, 24 lifeboats and three ambulances were headed to Tungkang (東港), Kanding (崁頂) and Chiatung (佳冬) townships in Pingtung County, and Cishan Township (旗山) in Kaohsiung County as of 10am yesterday, adding that five lifeboats would also be dispatched to Tainan.

The city’s Social Affairs Bureau had also arranged for food, drinking water and thousands of towels and sleeping bags to be sent to flood victims, Chen said.

In related developments, ­Kaohsiung County Commissioner Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興) returned from Germany at noon yesterday amid criticism of his absence during the storm’s onslaught.

Yang, who led a delegation of county government officials to Britain and Germany on Aug. 1, said he tried to return as soon as he heard of the flooding, but was unable to get a ticket for an immediate flight.

KMT Legislator Chiang Lin-chun (江玲君), who represents a constituency in the county, said Yang should have canceled the trip after the weather bureau forecast the typhoon would bring torrential rains.

Meanwhile, the Taipei City Government said yesterday it had sent rescue teams and equipment to flooded regions.

More than 80 rescue staff, 16 rafts, seven fire trucks, three pumps, satellite phones and food were sent to Pingtung County on Saturday and yesterday.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said the city’s Fire Department had dispatched the first rescue team to Pingtung County on Saturday night after receiving a request from the county government.

“We will spare no efforts in helping. More rescue teams will be dispatched if necessary,” he said at the city’s emergency operation center.

Hau said the city government also sent 23 rescuers, three fire trucks and 10 rafts to Tainan County after he had spoken to Tainan County Commissioner Su Huan-chi (蘇煥智).

The city government also sent a rescue team and rescue equipment to Chiayi County after it contacted the city government and offered assistance, he said.

Hau said the city government contacted the Kaohsiung County Government and was prepared to offer any necessary assistance.

Fire Depatment Commissioner Hsiung Kuang-hua (熊光華) said the rescue work was expected to continue for two or three days.

Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said yesterday that the party had launched a disaster relief campaign.

“All campaign activities [for the year-end local government elections] have been suspended and our volunteers will join disaster relief efforts,” Cheng told a news conference in Taipei.

He also said the Kaohsiung City Government had created an emergency response center to accept donations of necessities such as water, food, medicine and flashlights for flood victims across the south.

Those who wish to donate items can contact the center at (07) 337-3375 or deliver items to Kaohsiung City Hall at No. 2, Sihwei 3rd Rd, Lingya District, Kaohsiung City.

DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) donated NT$1 million to the relief efforts.

Cheng said the central government reacted too slowly.

“It’s unimaginable that the central government does not have updated information about the disaster — some local government heads had to issue calls for help through the media,” Cheng said. “Certainly helping the victims is the priority at the moment. The Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of National Defense will have to shoulder the political responsibility afterwards.”

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