Fri, Sep 04, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Ma pays his respects at Martyrs’ Shrine

HONORED, BUT HEARTBROKENThe ashes of Wang Tsung-li were placed in the Shoushan Martyrs’ Shrine and those of his comrades were placed in the Taichung shrine

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Edible materials such as cookies, ginger and yams are used as sacrificial offerings for the Ghost Festival at the Sinrong Community in Jhuolan Township, Miaoli County, yesterday.Residents called on the public to plant trees to prevent mudslides such as those brought by Typhoon Morakot last month.

PHOTO: CHEN CHIEH-LIANG, TAIPEI TIMES

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) paid his respects to the nation’s dead at the Martyrs’ Shrine in Taipei yesterday as the ashes of three rescuers killed during Typhoon Morakot were placed in the Martyrs’ Shrines of their hometowns.

Wang Tsung-li (王宗立), Chang Shun-fa (張順發) and Huang Mei-chih (黃鎂智) were the three crew members killed when their UH-1H helicopter crashed in Yila Valley in Wutai Township (霧台), Pingtung County, during relief operations.

In Wang’s hometown of Kaohsiung, the ashes of the 47-year-old pilot were placed at the Shoushan Martyrs’ Shrine. Wang’s wife said she felt honored, but was also heartbroken because the honor was in exchange for her husband’s life.

Ma issued a certificate to Wang’s family commending him for his heroic deeds.

Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) and Minister of the Interior Liao Liou-yi (廖了以) also awarded medals to Wang in recognition of his contribution during the aftermath of the typhoon. During Wang’s funeral last month, Liao and Vice Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) placed a national flag on his coffin.

The ashes of 42-year-old Chang and 43-year-old Huang were placed at the Martyrs’ Shrine in Taichung. Chang’s wife said words failed to describe her feelings. Huang’s wife said she felt honored.

In Taipei, Ma presided over the ceremony to worship national heroes at the Martyrs’ Shrine in Dazhi (大直) yesterday morning.

Leading Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) and the heads of the five branches of government, Ma paid his respects in a brief and solemn ceremony to which the media had limited access. Other dignitaries attending the service included families of the deceased, and military and police personnel.

Meanwhile, the Nantou County Government said yesterday it would hold a public service for volunteer firefighter Chang Jui-hsien (張瑞賢) today. It has invited Ma and Liu to the service to present a certificate to Chang’s family to honor his honorable deeds and to place a national flag on his coffin.

When contacted by the Taipei Times, the National Fire Agency yesterday said it did not have a tally of the number of civil servants who lost their lives during the aftermath of the typhoon because the Central Disaster Response Center was disbanded about a week ago and that the information would have to be obtained from the individual government agencies.

As of yesterday, confirmed total fatalities had reached 613, with another 71 listed as missing. The Web site of the National Disaster Prevention and Protection Commission showed that Kaohsiung bore the brunt of the destruction with 488 fatalities, followed by Pingtung’s 27 and Tainan’s 25.

The government is holding a national memorial service in Kaohsiung on Monday to commemorate those who died during and in the aftermath of Typhoon Morakot.

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