Sat, Sep 03, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Visiting official dies in hot spring

INVESTIGATION The family of the deputy director of Beijing's National Bureau of Statistics must be provided with every assistance possible, Premier Frank Hsieh said

BY JIMMY CHUANG AND SHIH HSIU-CHUAN  /  STAFF REPORTER WITH CNA

Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday asked officials to do their best to provide assistance to the bereaved family members of a visiting Chinese official, Zhu Xiangdong (朱向東), who died during an academic exchange visit to Taiwan.

The Shihlin District Prosecutors' Office confirmed yesterday that Zhu, a deputy director of Beijing's National Bureau of Statistics, died of heart failure on Thursday during a hot spring bath on Yangmingshan in suburban Taipei.

"If law enforcement officers confirm his death to be due to natural causes, we will provide our assistance on any aspect as much as possible," the premier said. "If not, they will begin an investigation immediately, anyway."

You Ying-lung (游盈隆), vice chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), yesterday said the council had already approved the application filed by Chu's family to come to Taiwan to make arrangements for his funeral.

Chu's wife, children, and his three colleagues were to arrive in Taiwan this afternoon, You said.

MAC Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said that the MAC has assigned the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) to establish a task force to help Chu's family during their stay in Taiwan.

The body of Zhu, who was visiting Taiwan on an academic exchange program at the invitation of the Central Weather Bureau, was found Thursday afternoon.

Although the autopsy has not been completed, Prosecutor Wang Jen-kuei (王壬貴) said Zhu's death looks to be an accident as there are no signs of foul play. Zhu died from heart failure brought on by the heat and sulfur in the hotspring room whose windows were closed, according to the coroner's report.

Zhu, visiting Taiwan in his capacity as an adviser to the National Statistical Society of China with four other colleagues, went to visit a meteorological station run by the Central Weather Bureau in Zhuzihu, Yangmingshan in Taipei's northern suburb on Thursday.

After visiting the center, Zhu and his group visited Yangmingshan's famous hot spring, checking into separate hot spring baths at the center's guest house on Thursday afternoon.

According to Zhu's companions, they entered his bath after an hour and found him passed out in the hot spring tub. All the windows were closed, which is against safety regulations, according to prosecutors.

Authorities from Taipei City Hospital, Yangming Branch said yesterday that Zhu showed no signs of life when he was rushed to the hospital around 4:30pm on Thursday.

Zhu, 50, is the highest-ranking Chinese official to pass away in Taiwan since the two rival sides began private exchanges more than a decade ago.

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