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Rain, flooding delay reconstruction

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- After a night of heavy rainfall, reconstruction work at the explosion sites in Kaohsiung was forced to halt due to excessive flooding.

The explosions that happened late on July 31 created a jagged trench running along several blocks in downtown Kaohsiung, but because the sewage system was damaged and several days of rain followed the explosions, the trench was flooded before the roads could be reconstructed.

Total rainfall reached 200 millimeters from late Sunday night to early Monday morning, flooding many of Kaohsiung's streets.

The Kaohsiung City Water Resources Bureau stated that as the explosions destroyed the culverts and drain systems in the area, rainwater can no longer be drained effectively. Currently, 17 water pumps have been installed at critical locations to divert water flow to other, more accessible drainage systems.

According to Deputy Kaohsiung Mayor Liu Shyh-fang (劉世芳), the explosion site that runs from Kaisyuan Road to Ersheng Road, and from Ersheng Road to its intersection with Heping Road was flooded at least 30 centimeters deep and 70 centimeters in some places. “The city government has decided to suspend classes and work for the residents in 15 smaller areas within the city's Cianjhen and Lingya Districts,” said Liu yesterday.

The decision was made at 8 a.m. on Monday, prompting many citizens to express their annoyance at the short notice. Liu apologized for the abrupt announcement, saying that the nature of the disaster zones calls for more flexibility, and the rain-induced floods were not anticipated.

In Gushan District, where school and work were not suspended, residents complained of excessive flooding as well as sludge from the streets flowing into their homes.

According to Kaohsiung's Environmental Protection Bureau, the originally planned construction of steel pipes intended to accelerate the removal of residual propene under Ersheng Road has been halted because of the rainfall and flooding; the construction work will begin as soon as the weather changes for the better.

The military and local fire departments have sent troops and life rafts to the scene of the explosions to await further orders.

MOEA Sends Water Pumps to Kaohsiung

Executive Yuan spokesman Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) yesterday stated that the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) has sent 17 water pumps to reduce the flooding in Kaohsiung's streets.

The Ministry of the Interior (MOI), the MOEA, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the Council of Agriculture and the Ministry of National Defense have all been notified to stay alert regarding reports of heavy rainfall made by the Central Weather Bureau, said Sun.

The MOI also called on Tainan City and Pingtung County to send 20 mobile water pumps to Kaohsiung if the latter is in need, said Sun.

The Cabinet has also called for the Ministry of Health and Welfare to dispatch personnel to Kaohsiung in case of dengue fever outbreaks, as the weather is hot and humid now, Sun added.

(Related stories on page 16)

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Residents stand at the “bank” of the flooded Kaisyuan Road in Kaohsiung, staring into the large water-filled trench that was a street less than two weeks ago, yesterday. (CNA)



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