Sat, May 17, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan News Quick Take

STAFF WRITER, WITH AGENCIES

■ SOCIETY

TAS to hold flea market

The Taipei American School (TAS) Orphanage Club is hosting a “Spring Flea Market/Rummage Sale” today from 10am to 3pm. The sale will be held in the lobby and forecourt of the school. Admission is free and there will be bargains galore, including games, clothing, books, household items, jewelry, toys, small appliances and plants as people clean out their homes. TAS is located at 800 Zhongshan N Road Sec 6, in Tianmu (天母).

■ EMERGENCY SERVICES

Disaster response drills held

Four disaster response drills simulating relief and rescue operations during massive flooding, earthquakes and epidemic outbreaks, as well as serious transportation accidents, were held in Taipei simultaneously yesterday. Nearly 3,000 personnel and 300 vehicles of various types, including ships and helicopters, were mobilized to carry out the drills. The drills were held at four different locations, including the Taipei Youth Park and the No. 6 pier on the Tamsui River. Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said he hoped the disaster preparedness exercises would allow all city government units to put in place standard procedures for disaster prevention, response and control operations.

■ HEALTH

Suicide rate falls

The nation’s suicide rate fell last year, but still nearly 4,000 Taiwanese committed suicide, averaging one suicide every two hours, the Department of Health said yesterday. A total of 3,933 people killed themselves last year, averaging 10.7 suicides per day, or one suicide every two hours. The suicide rate was 17.2 per 100,000 people. Last year’s figure was 473 suicides fewer than in 2006. Department officials attributed the drop in the suicide rate to the government and civic groups’ efforts in suicide prevention, such as opening suicide-prevention hot lines. But suicide prevention work must be strengthened because, although the nation’s suicide rate fell last year, suicides among the 15 to 24 age group rose and among those who committed suicide, five were children aged 10 to 14, the officials said.

■ EMERGENCY SERVICES

Network to monitor rivers

The central government will establish digital surveillance networks to monitor 24 major rivers within the next two years in an attempt to provide an early warning for possible disasters, a senior official at the Ministry of Economic Affairs said on Thursday. Chen Shen-hsien (陳伸賢), director-general of the ministry’s Water Resources Agency, explained that the networks would deploy infrared cameras along river banks to gather 24-hour, real-time information and a data processing system would compare the images received every 15 seconds. “In doing so, the system will alert its managers when any inconsistency is spotted that would indicate a change in landscape and a possible hazard,” Chen said. The networks would also serve as a monitor against illegal activities, such as illicit trash dumping and the theft of gravel, he said. “The agency will dispatch an investigation team to the site should the system spot any suspicious human activity,” Chen said. “The staffers will then video the process and notify the police and the district prosecutor to take legal action.” The agency said the networks will cost some NT$200 million (US$6.4 million) and become fully operational in 2010.

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