Wed, Jul 23, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Probe to look into reasons for storm damage

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office said in a statement yesterday it would investigate whether corruption or negligence were responsible for the public infrastructure breakdown that led to flash flooding and serious property damage during Tropical Storm Kalmaegi last week.

Officials said the investigation would focus on the role of human agency in the toll from the storm, which hit the nation on Thursday, causing serious damage to public infrastructure, including roads, bridges and embankments.

As of yesterday, 20 people had been confirmed dead from flooding and landslides after the storm pelted central and southern areas with heavy rain. Agricultural losses were estimated at more than NT$1.05 billion (US$34.57 million).

Prosecutors and police will examine whether the breakdowns were caused by shoddy work resulting from fraud or negligence in the public sector, at construction companies, or from gangster activity, the statement said.

Land overexploitation will also be a focus of the investigation.

The Taiwan High Prosecutors Office said the probes were in response to reports suggesting that irregularities may have occurred and denied they were the result of specific tipoffs.

Meanwhile, Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) has asked the Central Weather Bureau to submit a report within a week on its plans to improve the accuracy of its weather forecasts.

Liu made the request at a meeting late on Monday to review the Cabinet’s response to Kalmaegi.

Liu asked Minister Without Portfolio Chang Jin-fu (張進福) to invite specialists and weather bureau officials to discuss means by which to improve weather forecasts.

The Cabinet would provide financial assistance and manpower to help local governments upgrade their flood prevention systems, Minister of the Interior Liao Liou-yi (廖了以) quoted Liu as saying.

City and county governments can earmark funds from the recently approved special budgets allocated for local infrastructure projects and use the money to fund emergency responses to storm-related disasters and reconstruction work in disaster areas, Liao said.

At the meeting, Liu also requested the creation of a special taskforce to address poor communication among the different government agencies in charge of water, land and forests, which he said hampers effective disaster prevention.

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