The Red Cross Society of the Republic of China (ROC) yesterday released a detailed plan on its management of the more than NT$160 million (US$5.3 million) it has received in donations for people affected by the gas pipeline blasts in Greater Kaohsiung on July 31 and Aug. 1, in an attempt to avoid the controversy tied to its of handling funds raised for past disasters.
“As of Aug. 31, which marked one month since the tragic event, the Red Cross Society has raised a total of NT$169,506,118 in donations for those killed or injured in the deadly gas pipeline explosions,” society president Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) told a press conference in Taipei.
The blasts, which killed 31 and injured 309, have been tied to a leak in the city’s Cianjhen (前鎮) and Lingya (苓雅) districts
Wang said the donations have been earmarked for 10 purposes, including emergency relief efforts (NT$1 million); consolation money for the injured and the families of the deceased (NT$25 million); long-term care and medical assistance for the severely injured (NT$40 million); one-year living support fund for the injured (NT$3 million) and psychological support services (NT$5 million).
The funds are also to subsidize the repair of damaged housing (NT$25 million) and schools (NT$5 million); to procure special detection equipment and vehicles to donate to the Greater Kaohsiung Government’s Fire Department (NT$60 million); to purchase automated external defibrillators and have them installed in stores and borough warden offices (NT$2 million) and to promote disaster prevention education (NT$5 million), Wang said.
“Only NT$3,400,000, or about 1.95 percent, of the donations are to be allocated to cover our administrative expenses,” Wang added.
The organization has faced controversy since news reports in May 2012 said that about NT$4.3 billion of the NT$10 billion it had raised for disasters at home and abroad since 2004 had yet to be disbursed.
Revelations last month that the society’s Taipei branch had taken up to 15 percent of donations for administrative expenses also triggered anger, although Wang said that it took no more than 2 percent of donations to cover such costs.
Meanwhile, the Teacher Chang Foundation — known for its telephone counseling service — and the Red Cross have launched a local helpline at 0800-098-181.
“In addition, about 30 forums on coping with stress are to be held in the 22 elementary schools, 13 junior-high schools and 11 senior-high schools in the two affected districts from next month to June next year to teach young students how to recover from the disaster,” Teacher Chang Foundation president Chang Te-chung (張德聰) said.