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Giant steel owl memorial debuts in Kaohsiung just in time for Qixi

KAOHSIUNG--Two giant steel sculptures of perched owls made their debut in a rural community of Kaohsiung Saturday, just in time for the Qixi Festival, or Chinese Valentine's Day.

Located in the Da'ai community in Shanlin District, the owls and the concrete base supporting them measure 6 meters high and 3 meters wide. Owls are considered a symbol of luck in the culture of the indigenous Bunun tribe.

The gleaming owls, the largest steel owl structure in the world, are intended to be a new landmark in mountainous Shanlin and a memorial to the destruction brought by Typhoon Morakot in 2009, according to the Morakot Post-Disaster Reconstruction Council.

The sculpture took China Steel Corp., Taiwan's largest steel maker, six months and NT$5 million (US$165,600) to build, the council said.

At the beginning of the unveiling ceremony, Chern Jenn-chuan, the council's CEO, asked participants to take a moment of silence for the victims of the underground explosions that occurred late Thursday in Kaohsiung. The blasts, suspected to be related to a gas leak, killed at least 28.

With the experience of post-Morakot reconstruction, Chern said he believes the victims of the explosions will be able to get back up and, with the help of society, make Taiwan a safer place.

Constructed on a 60-hectare plot, Da'ai community is the largest of 44 the reconstruction council planned since Morakot battered the island on August 8, 2009, leaving 680 dead.

The community accommodates 1,006 households and some 3,000 residents.

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Government officials and guests unveil two giant steel sculptures of perched owls at a rural community of Kaohsiung, yesterday.

(CNA

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