Quake donations to Hualien County government reach US$20 million

2018/02/11 19:41:18 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Fu Kun-chi (傅崐萁)

Fu Kun-chi (傅崐萁)

Taipei, Feb. 11 (CNA) Domestic and overseas donations made to Hualien County government in the wake of an earthquake in the eastern county late on Tuesday Feb. 6 have reached NT$595 million (US$20.29 million), the county chief said Sunday.

While briefing the press on donations, Fu Kun-chi (傅崐萁) expressed gratitude for such financial assistance and the outpouring of sympathy for the earthquake victims.

However, he also noted that the current level of donations remained far short of what was needed for reconstruction work.

Fu estimated the cost of settling people made homeless and post-earthquake reconstruction will reach NT$2 billion. "It's a very heavy burden," he said, calling for more help from the central government.

At the press conference, the county chief pointedly questioned the central government's promise of NT$300 million for rescue, relief and reconstruction work in Hualien, particularly after allocating NT$20 billion to Tainan City Government in the wake of a magnitude 6.6 earthquake in February 2016 that killed 117 people.

Of the dead, 115 were residents of a community building complex in the southern municipality. Most of the buildings in the residence-business-mixed complex collapsed during the temblor which was recorded as having the highest intensity of 7 in the city.

In response to Fu's question, Minister without Portfolio Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶) explained that the central government has allocated nearly NT$1 billion for Hualien County government to use on rescue, relief and reconstruction work.

Earlier, Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) said the central government has set up a special panel to take charge of post-earthquake reconstruction in Hualien. The panel will be chaired by Chen.

During a visit to the quake-hit county, Lai, who was Tainan mayor two years ago during the quake in 2016, stressed "we care every bit as much for Hualien."

At Sunday's press conference, Fu announced a committee will be established to supervise the use of donations, and that in order to maintain its independence, he would not be one of its members.

Instead, the committee will include capable community leaders, representatives of earthquake victims and experts in relevant sectors, who will help supervise the use of the donations, Fu said.

The chairwoman of the Red Cross Society of the Republic of China (Taiwan), Wang Ching-feng (王清峰), will be the convener of the planned committee, the county chief said.

While the magnitude 6 earthquake jolted eastern Taiwan on Feb. 6, Hualien City received the strongest tremor, which posted an intensity of seven 7 on the 7-tier scale used in Taiwan. In seconds, four buildings partially collapsed.

As of 2 p.m. Sunday, the death toll has reached 16, while the number of people injured stood at 285, with one person still unaccounted for, according to data from the Central Emergency Operation Center.

(By Liu Kuan-ting, Ku Chuan and Elizabeth Hsu)

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