Wed, Jul 07, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Military defends response

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The military yesterday said there was no delay in responding to any rescue request and that troops were ready to help victims of Tropical Storm Mindulle whenever and wherever needed.

"Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] Legislator Hsu Chung-hsiung (徐中雄) called us and complained that our choppers didn't help any victims in Taichung. But after we explained the situation he realized what had happened," said General Chen Pan-chih (陳邦治), director of the defense ministry's Political Warfare Department, at a press conference yesterday.

"We have dispatched 13,206 soldiers, including airborne troops, to join the rescue effort and they are good to go," he said.

Hsu is a legislator representing Taichung County.

Chen said that the air force's S-70C helicopters were trying to ship medical equipment, medicine, food and other supplies to Taichung County, parts of which have been seriously damaged by days of floodwater. However, he added, severe weather conditions over the past few days had forced pilots to suspend missions.

In addition to the air force's helicopters, the Aviation Police Department has also sent helicopters to support the rescue effort.

Chen said that a separate complaint from Taichung County Commissioner Huang Chung-sheng (黃仲生) had also been confirmed to be the result of a misunderstanding.

"When [Huang] called for assistance, the duty officer at the army's 10th Division told him that he had to file an official application and get approval before the military could send its troops to help," Chen said.

Chen said that Huang was upset at the time but later realized that all he had to do was fill out a form -- which he did.

"Huang has called the 10th Division and apologized. It was merely a misunderstanding," Chen said.

In addition to the 10th Division, Chen said that Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) had asked the Marines to launch rescue missions. One hundred marines based at Chingchuankang (清泉崗) arrived in Taichung County's Shihkang township yesterday to begin their work.

Chen said that approximately 21,000 soldiers have been helping Taichung's flood victims in the clean-up. The military will begin to help disinfect affected areas from tomorrow once all the garbage stacked in flooded areas has been removed.

Ministry Spokesman Major General Huang Suei-sheng (黃穗生) said there were two ways to ask for help from the military.

"The Disaster Prevention Law (災害防治法) authorizes the central government or local government authorities to apply to the ministry or our branch offices. Official applications are required but phone requests between chief officers are also acceptable during an emergency," Huang said. "It is the military's job to help victims and we will never refuse such requests."

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