08/20/2009, 00.00
TAIWAN
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Billions allocated for reconstruction in wake of typhoon Morakot

An initial allocation of over 2 billion Euros set aside today. President Ma visits the population most affected by the earthquake. Meanwhile the political crisis worsens with the resignation of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, but the premier does not accept any resignation.

Taipei (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Taiwanese government today approved the allocation of 100 billion Taiwan dollars (about 2.13 billion Euros) over 3 years for reconstruction after the immense damage caused by typhoon Morakot. Meanwhile, the political storm over delays in aid and lack of assistance shows no sign of abating. Yesterday, as President Ma Yingjeou went into the affected area, Defense Minister Chen Chaomin resigned.

Politicians and public opinion charge that rescue efforts, especially the army, was slow, while whole villages were submerged by meters of mud that caused over 500 deaths.

The resignation of Chen followed those of two other members of the government, even if yesterday Chaoshiuan Premier Liu said that the resignations will not be accepted because it is now important to address the emergency. At least 11 thousand people are still without water and electricity, 11 days after the disaster. The damage to houses, crops, infrastructure, industrial plants are estimated at 110 billion local dollars.

The government responds that no one could have foreseen the violence of the typhoon, the most serious for at least 50 years. However, objectively speaking only 2100 soldiers were initially sent, while in following days about 43,300 military personnel intervened.

Yesterday President Ma, who has been the focus of criticism for the delay in rescue efforts and for having refused foreign aid offered by China, visited the village of Hsiaolin, in the worst affected. The village is still submerged under several meters of mud and the people, being housed in neighbouring localities, have openly criticized Ma insisting that the landslides were caused by construction of the Tsengwen Reservoir Water Diversion Project that started 5 years ago.

 
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