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Power, water supplies to resume this week

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Thousands of residents who have been with no electricity and water following the massive gas explosions in Kaohsiung will have to wait a few more days before supplies can be resumed.

Meanwhile, relief supplies continued to arrive in the southern port city, where Taiwan's deadliest ever gas explosion has killed at least 27 people and injured more than 280 others.

Long sections of roads have been reduced to rubble, cutting off utility supplies to thousands of households.

Many residents have also been evacuated from their homes, taking shelter at schools. Some local hotels are also offering free accommodation for affected residents.

The public utility companies will work hard trying to resume power and water supplies in three and five days, respectively, Vice Premier Mao Chi-kuo was told during a briefing on rescue and relief efforts in the wake of the deadly blasts.

As of yesterday afternoon, water supply to 7,000 households was suspended, and 5,760 households were without electricity. Two gas supply lines to 22,205 households remained cut off.

The Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) said power supply to about 3,900 households in less-affected areas should be able to resume in two days.

If the Kaohsiung City government agrees to have temporary overhead power lines set up in the worst-hit areas, electricity supply to some 1,900 households in these areas can be resumed in three days.

The Taiwan Water Corp. said the city government has already agreed to let it set up temporary water pipelines, and supply to affected residents should be able to resume in five days.

No schedule was set for resumption of the town's gas supply.

Monetary relief has already collected a few hundred million NT dollars from private donations. Food, bottled water and other relief supplies have also been arriving in Kaohsiung.

The disaster command center set up at the Wuquan Elementary School has already registered thousands of volunteers offering to help with the relief work.

“My home is not damaged, but I want to help others,” a 15-year-old volunteer, surnamed Chang, from the explosions-hit area was cited by the Central News Agency as saying.

A tattoo artist and his tattooed friends and clients also showed up offering their help, the CNA said, adding that the volunteers also included many high school students.

Volunteers have been helping with distributing relief supplies and offering other services, such as psychological counseling and massage.

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Residents evacuated from the gas explosions-hit areas in Kaohsiung take shelter in a high school yesterday. Some local hotels are also offering free accommodation to affected residents. (CNA)

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