Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou apologized again today for the slow response to Typhoon Morakot and said he plans sweeping changes to the country’s rescue agencies and may punish some government officials.
“We will try our best to do a better job in the rescue work that has been criticized for being too slow,” said Ma. “There are things that we have to correct and we also will be responsible for whatever mistakes or neglect that government officials have made.” Morakot hit the island August 8, dropping 102 inches of rain. The storm killed at least 123 people in Taiwan before it roared on to mainland China the next day. But more than 300 people could be dead as rescuers have struggled to locate many who were missing in remote mountainous areas of southern Taiwan. Ma said he will evaluate the rescue process and may punish some government officials by early September. Ma apologized last week for the rescue effort as he traveled around the typhoon-battered island. He said heavy rain grounded rescue helicopters in the first few days after the storm hit, delaying relief efforts. He said Tuesday that he will make changes to Taiwan’s fire departments and army to emphasize rescue and recovery training.