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June 28, 2017

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KMT councilors press charges against Chen Chu

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Kuomintang (KMT) councilors yesterday pressed official misconduct charges against Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) at the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office over the fatal gas explosion incident that killed 30 and injured more than 300 people.

Before visiting the prosecutors' office, the KMT councilors held a press conference at the Kaohsiung City Council, during which KMT Councilor Lu Shu-mei (陸淑美) said that there was a window of three hours between the time the report of the gas leak was made and the time when the explosions occurred, accusing the city government of official misconduct.

After the press conference concluded, Kaohsiung City Council Speaker Hsu Kun-yuan (許崑源) led councilors of his party to the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office.

Hsu pointed out that the gas explosions killed 30 and injured more than 300, adding that the city government has repeatedly made attempts at covering up its mistakes.

Hsu said that KMT councilors will not let any public servant that is responsible for the incident off the hook.

Between late July 31 and early Aug. 1, a series of devastating gas explosions ripped apart several streets in the southern port city, resulting in 30 people dead — several of whom were firefighters — and more than 300 injured. Investigators believe that the blasts were caused by a gas leak from a propene-carrying pipe with a 28-square-centimeter hole in it.

DPP Councilors Sue VP

Meanwhile, Kaohsiung councilors from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday pressed charges against Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), who served as mayor of Kaohsiung in the 1990s, saying that Wu should be held accountable for the gas explosions.

In response, a statement was released from Wu's office, saying that the gas leak was reported as early as 4 p.m. on July 31, and if the city government had requested that the gas running through the pipeline be cut off, the tragedy would've been averted. The statement further urged investigators to get to the bottom of the case and identify those who are responsible for the accident.

In response to the DPP's claim that the pipeline in question was approved when Wu was mayor, staffers of the vice president's office said that some pipelines were laid before Wu became mayor and that some pipelines were approved by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Regardless of which party was at the helm of the city government at what time, if the city government had properly supervised the petrochemical companies and ensured the repair and maintenance of the pipelines, such a tragedy wouldn't have occurred, the statement read.

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