Fri, Aug 21, 2009 - Page 1 News List

MORAKOT: THE AFTERMATH: Three days of mourning declared for victims

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The nation will hold three days of mourning for people killed in floods and landslides caused by Typhoon Morakot, the Cabinet said yesterday.

Government buildings will fly the national flag at half-mast from tomorrow until Monday in memory of those killed in the disaster.

Morakot slammed into Taiwan on Aug. 8, triggering floods and mudslides in the south and destroying mountain villages.

The official casualty list now stands at 141 dead and 440 missing, but the death toll is expected to rise because 466 people from Xiaolin Village (小林) are confirmed to have been be buried under 3m to 10m of mud.

An anonymous government source said the Cabinet did not pass Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) Minister Jennifer Wang’s (王如玄) suggestion that the Cabinet observe a moment of silence.

Wang was unable to be reached for comment, although she later led the CLA department heads in observing one minute of silence for typhoon victims at a council meeting.

Executive Yuan Spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) said Wang mentioned the idea in passing when the issue of flying national flags at half-mast was discussed.

The flag idea was a non-agenda item proposed by Vice Minister of the Interior Lin Join-sane (林中森) at the end of the Cabinet meeting, Su said.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet approved a proposed special statute for post-Morakot reconstruction at its weekly meeting yesterday that capped the reconstruction budget at NT$100 billion (US$3.03 billion).

“We want to accomplish reconstruction in three years,” Lin told a press conference after the Cabinet meeting.

Should the legislature pass the statute, the central government and local governments would be authorized to forcibly remove residents in dangerous or deforested areas and the governments would be obliged to provide relocation assistance, Lin said.

Under the proposed regulations, the governments would have to provide residents with land-use rights, as well as rent allowances or subsidies for interest payments on down payments and mortgages.

To obtain land not in danger zones, the governments can either demand provisions from state-owned institutions or state-owned enterprises or expropriate private property, the draft statute said.

Meanwhile, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said he would call a meeting of caucus whips today to discuss whether an extraordinary session will be convened to screen the special reconstruction bill or if the next legislative session should begin ahead of schedule to deal with the bill. The next session is scheduled to start on Sept. 18.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DPA and CNA

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