The heads of the Kaohsiung Fire Bureau and Public Works Bureau on Tuesday resigned over a deadly fire that claimed 46 lives earlier this month.
The fire at the 40-year-old Cheng Chung Cheng (城中城) building broke out in the early hours of Oct. 14 and engulfed six floors of the 13-story building, killing 46 residents and injuring 43.
Fire Bureau Chief Lee Ching-hsiu (李清秀) and Public Works Bureau Director-General Su Chih-hsun (蘇志勳) had handed their resignations to Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) after the fire, the city government said in a statement on Wednesday.
Chen held off on accepting their resignations and told the two officials to focus first on relief efforts and assisting an investigative team tasked with determining whether city officials or staff held any responsibility for the blaze, the statement said.
He accepted the resignations on Tuesday, after Lee’s and Su’s aid had “concluded for the time being,” the statement said.
The investigative team is to complete its report today, it said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) city councilors called for Chen, a member of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), to resign and take responsibility for the fire.
The fire indicates that many agencies in the city are functionally broken, and it is unacceptable that only two bureau heads have resigned over the matter, KMT Kaohsiung Councilor Tung Yen-chen (童燕珍) said.
“No responsibility, no budget,” Tung said, implying that the KMT, which holds a majority on the council, could block the city government’s budget for next year if Chen refuses to resign.
The DPP caucus on the council said in a statement that officials reacted quickly and efficiently after the fire, and they would not shy away from taking responsibility.
The KMT should “stop using tragedy for political gains,” the DPP said.
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