Fri, Aug 08, 2014 - Page 3 News List

KAOHSIUNG DISASTER: Families vent anger at LCY chief

HEALTH RISKS:With more rain forecast in the coming days, the Centers for Disease Control said that Greater Kaohsiung may be at a higher risk for dengue fever

By Fang Chih-hsien and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

LCY Chemical Corp chairman Bowei Lee yesterday kneels before an altar to the victims of the gas pipeline explosions in Greater Kaohsiung last week at a funeral parlor in the city.

Photo: Chang Chung-yi, Taipei Times

Families and friends of the victims of the gas pipeline explosions in Greater Kaohsiung yesterday vented their anger at LCY Chemical Corp chairman Bowei Lee (李謀偉) when he showed up at the funeral rites for those who died in the incident last week.

Lee was jostled and shouted at by people at the funeral parlor, and one man dumped a cup of tea on the back of Lee’s head as he was answering questions from reporters.

The man was later identified as a father whose son was among the 30 who died in the disaster on Thursday and Friday last week.

Lee bowed his head to apologize and promised his company would make good on financial compensation for the victims.

He also knelt on the ground to honor the deceased.

That did not appease the anger of the bereaved, with some crying out for the return of the lives of their loved ones.

“Give me back my father,” one person shouted, while another yelled: “I want my mother back.”

“You are responsible for killing my son,” one cried, while others hurled epithets such as “crook” and “garbage” at Lee.

It has been one week since the disaster occurred, and yesterday was touqi (頭七), the seventh day after death, when funeral rites for the deceased are conducted, according to Taiwanese folk tradition.

The event was held at the Kaohsiung municipal mortuary.

Some family members were distraught at the slow pace of the inquiry into the incident.

“It has been seven days now, and we still do not know who is responsible for the loss of lives,” one victim’s relative said.

Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), Minister Without Portfolio Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興), Vice Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) attended the rites.

Meanwhile, rescue work had to be temporarily suspended yesterday morning because of heavy rain. Water collected in roads that had caved in after the explosions, turning the 4km stretch of the disaster-hit streets of Cianjhen District (前鎮) into a stream.

The rain also affected the funeral rites, as the canvas put up to serve as a canopy leaked, turning the floor wet and slippery. City officials had to dispatch workers to place cardboards on the floor for people to walk on while conducting funeral rites.

The Centers for Disease Control said the gas pipeline explosions have badly damaged the area’s drainage system and created many water-ditches.

As more rainfall is forecast in the coming days, the centers warned that water drainage problem would put the city at a higher risk of dengue fever.

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