Tue, Aug 21, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Ministry apologizes over hospital fire

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) yesterday led ministry officials to bow and apologize for a deadly fire at Taipei Hospital last week and announced that the government would provide an additional NT$1 million (NT$32,510) each as consolation to bereaved families.

The fire broke out at about 4:30am on Monday last week on the seventh floor of the hospice section of the ministry-

affiliated hospital in New Taipei City’s Sinjhuang District (新莊), killing 13 people and injuring 26, ministry data showed yesterday.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday morning accused Chen of “hiding” for nearly a week before returning to Taiwan on Saturday night. It demanded that he resign.

Chen said he was not in Taiwan at the time because he was attending an APEC meeting on health and the economy in Papua New Guinea.

Chen said he was informed of the fire and had contacted ministry officials to see how they were handling the situation.

He said that while at the meetings, which ended on Thursday last week, he had been concerned about the people affected.

He left the following day, but his flight via Manila was delayed because the Ninoy Aquino International Airport closed its main runway on Friday.

The Philippine airport was closed after a Xiamen Airlines jet overshot the runway.

Chen attended the touqi (頭七) — the seventh day after death — ceremony and rituals in memory of those killed.

Taipei Hospital will continue to care for and provide social workers to assist the families, he said, adding that the ministry would review standard operating procedures and emergency response measures at hospitals.

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