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Investigation needed to establish fault: VP

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said yesterday that determining who is responsible for the Kaohsiung gas explosions depends on determining whether the pipeline or the culvert beneath the intersection of Ersheng Rd. (二聖路) and Kaixuan Rd. (凱旋路) was built first.

As part of the ongoing investigations, prosecutors recently discovered a 4-inch pipe with a 28-square-centimeter hole in the culvert beneath the aforementioned intersection, which is where the explosions were worst.

According to the regulations, pipelines should be buried underground and covered, not exposed to air. The pipe prosecutors discovered intersected the culvert.

Investigators said that if the gas had leaked from any section of the pipeline that was not exposed to air, and if that had led to an explosion, the magnitude of the blast would have been much smaller. On Thursday, the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office said it was “certain” that the leak originated from the 4-inch pipe in the culvert.

According to local reports, the culvert was built during Wu's tenure as Kaohsiung mayor in the 1990s, and it is rumored that the pipeline was laid before the culvert was built.

Assuming that the culvert was built before the pipeline was laid, then the Public Works Bureau's hydraulic engineering division, which is now the Hydraulic Engineering Bureau, is not at fault, Wu said.

In that case, the responsibility would fall on the authorities that were responsible for checking the pipelines within the past two decades, Wu added.

It comes down to the district prosecutors' investigation, in order to determine whether the culvert or the pipeline came first, Wu said.

If the responsibility falls on the Kaohsiung City Government of two decades ago, Wu said that he as then-mayor would have to apologize.

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