China - Taiwan Province

Taiwan pauses to mourn victims one month after killer typhoon

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Kaohsiung, Sep 07, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Taiwan authorities held a ceremony Monday to mourn the victims of typhoon Morakot one month after it hit the island and claimed nearly 500 lives.

More than 5,000 people who attended the mourning paid an 88-second silent tribute to the residents and seven disaster relief workers who died during and after the course of Morakot. The figure 88 stood for August 8, the date when Morakot hit.

Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou delivered a speech at the ceremony, expressing his sorrow and self-condemnation for the loss of lives.

Ma thanked the mainland and those in Taiwan who participated in the relief work for the help they provided to disaster-hit areas.

The mainland has donated 1,000 prefabricated houses and about five billion New Taiwan dollars (about 152 million U.S. dollars), which is the largest sum of donation Taiwan has received, Ma said.

It fully proves that the bond between the two sides is like blood, which is "thicker than water", he said.

Ma also promised "utmost effort" in reconstruction and further work on soil and water conservation.

Taiwan has launched a "home adoption" plan to encourage companies and public welfare groups to fund the reconstruction of more than 2,000 permanent houses in a badly-hit town in Kaohsiung County.

Companies and groups have responded actively to the plan, island media reported.

Taiwan's legislature has approved a three-year reconstruction plan with a maximum budget of 120 billion NT dollars. It has also prepared 100 million NT dollars as a special budget for psychological reconstruction services.

According to the island's agricultural authority, Morakot has caused total agricultural losses of 16.4 billion NT dollars.

It is estimated the number of tourists from outside Taiwan may fall by 10 percent from August to October, which could result in an economic loss of 2.7 billion NT dollars.