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Mon, Jun 12, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Government responds to another jolt

TREMBLER In its first real test in a crisis the government has responded to the earthquake by pressing for relief work and warning of mudslides in central Taiwan

STAFF WRITER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday expressed his "grave concern" and instructed government departments to embark on relief work, in the wake of yesterday's early morning earthquake.

At 6am, the president assigned secretary-general of the Presidential Office Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) to attend a briefing made by the response center under the National Fire Administration (消防署).

"The president has been well informed and given all the related information. He has given executive departments full authority to handle the relief efforts," Chang said.

Chen will not inspect the quake-stricken areas for the time being, according to Chang.

Soon after the quake, Premier Tang Fei (唐飛) -- who is still recuperating in the Veterans General Hospital -- phoned secretary-general of the Cabinet Wei Chi-lin (魏啟林), Vice Premier Yu Shyi-kun and Minister of National DefenseWu Shih-wen (伍世文) to coordinate relief efforts.

At the press conference held in the hospital later, Tang said the Executive Yuan would allocate NT$200 million to the prevention of mudslides.

Since the earthquake did not cause serious casualties and damage, the Executive Yuan would assist, rather than lead relief efforts by local governments, Tang said.

Obviously concerned about mudslides triggered by heavy rain in the coming few days, Tang urged local governments not to ignore their potential danger.

He called for people who lived in areas with a risk of mudslides to temporarily leave their homes and seek shelter in a safe place.

Directed by the premier, the Ministry of National Defense established an emergency response center to gather first-hand information of the damage caused by the quake.

The command center for the tenth legion of the army deployed in central Taiwan would join relief efforts to prevent landslides, Tang said.

Minister of the Interior Chang Po-ya (張博雅) contacted Chairman of the National Fire Administration Chen Hung-yi (陳弘毅) and Director-General of the National Police Administration Ting Yuan-chin (丁原進) soon after the quake, to inform them of what emergency measures were being taken.

Chang urged people to stay alert and take care because of after-shocks and mudslides.

Chang also called on the Ministry of the Interior in central Taiwan to examine the extent of damage in areas affected by the 921 quake.

Yesterday morning Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) visited the Central Weather Bureau for a brief on the weather situation.

Yeh said the jolt yesterday was an after-shock of the 921 earthquake and advised people not to visit mountainous areas in case of mudslides triggered by heavy rain.

The chairman of the Council of Agriculture Chen Hsi-huang (陳希煌) formed a "disaster prevention center" yesterday morning.

Also, after an emergency meeting at the council, Chen visited the quake-stricken area. Chen said the council would start preparing for the evacuation of people in mudslide-prone areas and complete road repairs soon.

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