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Ma mourns victims of national tragedies, lauds local kindness

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday mourned the victims of the recent tragedies in Kaohsiung and Penghu, urging the people of the nation to support each other and pray for the safety of all.

Flight GE222 crashed in Penghu on July 23, killing 48 people, and a week later, a series of gas explosions ripped apart several streets in Kaohsiung, resulting in 30 deaths and more than 300 injured. The Executive Yuan announced that on Aug. 5 all national flags will fly at half mast for three days.

During the Kuomintang's weekly Central Standing Committee meeting, the president, who doubles as chairman of the ruling party, mourned the victims of the tragedy.

This has been a series of heartbreaking events, and they are an extremely sad and painful page in Taiwan's history, the president said.

Behind the pain and sadness, however, one can also observe the strength of love, the president said, adding that when the explosions happened, all, regardless of their political affiliations or whether they were in Taiwan or abroad, were extremely worried and prayed for those in Kaohsiung.

To saves lives firefighters died in the line of duty; ordinary citizens offered their help and in the process got injured; members of the armed forces stood fast at their posts, during which some who were slated for discharge decided to stay on in the military until relief efforts were completed; companies made generous donations; young people called on their friends to volunteer together, the president said. “This is the innate kindness of the Taiwanese people.”

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