Centre for victims of water park fire opens

People carry an injured victim from an accidental explosion during a music concert at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City.
PHOTO: Reuters

TAIPEI - Premier Mao Chi-kuo and New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu oversaw the opening of the 627 Case Management Center for burn-related injuries, in response to the Formosa Water Park explosions, yesterday, but families of the injured also demanded that the government draft a budget for continual funding.

Apart from emphasizing the centre's goal to provide "one-on-one" services for the injured, Mao announced that the government will work with the Sunshine Social Welfare Foundation to set up an organisation that will continually fund assistance for explosion victims in the future.

Mao also expressed great regret over the death toll, which is currently placed at five victims, and bowed deeply in respect of university student Su Chia-sheng's family's decision to donate his organs. Su was declared brain dead on July 10.

Donors from many fields pitched in to help set up and fund the management centre, including donations of NT$16 million (S$703,000) from Yulon Group, and the New Taipei City Medical Association with NT$1 million.

The centre, located on the sixth floor of the New Taipei City Hospital Banqiao Branch, houses facilities such as two intensive care unit beds, eight regular beds, a physio-therapy rehabilitation room, a group therapy room and small meeting rooms. A burn unit was also established at the centre, due to the approximately 200 or so victims living in the Greater Taipei area.

Lin Mei-na, the centre's director, welcomes the 500 victims and family members nationwide to seek help at the management centre.

Inconsiderate Ma

Su Chin-fa, father of Su Chia-sheng who also attended the opening ceremony, expressed his disappointment in President Ma Ying-jeou's statement related to the Formosa Water Park explosions.

"We have done what we can do," Ma had said in response to media questions during his trip overseas. "Choosing to stay in Taiwan will not prevent some of the injured from passing away." Su argued that the president should have "encouraged the families affected by the tragedy," and not try to dampen their spirits.

Request for Annual Budget Plan

Su also went on to point out that while there has been more than NT$1.1 million in donations for the victims and their families, "there are more than 500 victims, and the money will not be enough to help all of them in 20 or 30 years' time," and implored society to continue to help the families that will potentially slide into financial distress.

"The dust explosions are a nationwide disaster, and not just an accident" Su said. "The government shouldn't just set up and use the second reserve funds," saying that the central government should propose a budget plan to handle the recurrent expenses to fund and help the victims and their families.