Taipei, Aug. 1 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou
rushed to the Central Emergency Operation Center in Xindian, New Taipei, Friday morning for a briefing on the aftermath of a gas explosion in Kaohsiung. After swearing in the president and members of the Control Yuan at the Presidential Office, Ma canceled his other public appearances in the morning and went to the operation center to learn about the progress of the rescue operations in Kaohsiung. On arrival, the president was greeted by Premier Jiang Yi-huah, who has been presiding over the operations at the center since it was activated early Friday after a gas explosion in Kaohsiung killed at least 25 people and injured another 267. Economics Minister Chang Chia-juch said at a news conference in Taipei Friday that the explosion was caused by a propene leak from an underground pipeline. Propene is a byproduct of oil refining and natural gas processing. Meanwhile, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu said that her priority is to deal with the aftermath of the disaster. The question of what was the cause of the explosion and who should be held responsible will be investigated later, she said.
Her party, the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has suspended all of its campaign activities that were scheduled ahead of the November municipal and other local elections. The party made the decision during an emergency meeting chaired by its leader Tsai Ing-wen Friday morning. It also called on cities and counties led by DPP heads to help with the rescue operations in Kaohsiung. Tsai was quoted as saying during the meeting that the DPP will collect materials to help with the rescue operation. (By Maubo Chang)