■ AviationCAL slams HK over report
China Airlines (CAL) will say at a public hearing next week that Hong Kong's Civil Aviation Department manipulated data to conclude that one of its pilots was responsible for a plane crash at the territory's airport in 1999, the South China Morning Post reported yesterday, citing unidentified people. An expert's report by the airline says the department "systematically constructed" findings to conclude that pilot Gerrardo Lettich caused the Boeing MD-11 to crash, killing three people and injuring more than 200, the paper said. The plane overturned while landing during a typhoon. CAL will say that the failure by another plane, which had difficulty landing before its jetliner, to alert air traffic controllers about wind-shear problems contributed to the crash, the paper said. The arguments were presented two weeks ago to the aviation authority, which is considering reopening its inquiry into the crash, according to the newspaper.
Temblor shakes Ilan
An earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale swayed buildings in northeastern Taiwan yesterday, seismologists said, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties. The tremor hit at 1:35pm with an epicenter 19.6km northeast of Ilan, the Seismology Center said. The tremor originated 79.3km below sea level, it said. "We could feel our building was shaken as the quake hit," an official with the Ilan County Government's Fire Bureau said.
Disaster units to combine
The nation's three airborne disaster-relief units are to be integrated into a single squad to upgrade their overall operational efficiency, according to a Ministry of the Interior report released yesterday. According to the report, the ministry has drafted a statute to pave the way for integration of the airborne firefighting team and the airborne police squad, both of which are under the ministry, and the airborne disaster-relief division under the Civil Aeronautics Administration. Once the statute is passed by the legislature, the unified national airborne-rescue-and-disaster-relief squad will have 35 aircraft under its control, including 20 UH-1H helicopters and three B-234 helicopters.
Hakka to hold conference
A five-day global conference on Hakka culture will open in Kaohsiung on Wednesday. An official of the Cabinet's Hakka Affairs Commission said yesterday that the conference is aimed at strengthening the cooperation among Hakka communities throughout the world. The commission has made great efforts to help promote Hakka culture and its language since its establishment in 2001, the official said. The commission hopes to develop Taiwan into a global center of Hakka culture, he said.
Robot arms wow visitors
Two robotic arms designed and constructed by students yesterday attracted the attention of visitors at an event held to mark the fourth anniversary of the National Chiayi University's founding. One of the robotic arms can carefully pick up a bottle of water, pour the contents into a cup, pick up the cup and hand it to a visitor. The other arm plays the guitar and is controlled by musical scores programmed into a computer. Professors of the university said they were happy to see that their students are able to apply the knowledge they have gained in the classroom.