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Death toll climbs to 31 in Kaohsiung blasts
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-08-31 04:44 PM
The number of fatalities in last month’s gas explosions in Kaohsiung rose to 31 Saturday with the death of Tao Ting-chou, who was a deputy squad leader in the Phoenix Volunteer Fire Brigade. Owner and operator of a car repair business in the city’s Fengshan District, Tao, who was 46 years old at the time of his death, responded immediately to the call for help the evening of July 31 and reported to the area near the intersection of Kaixuan Road and Ersheng Road.

Tao was severely injured in the blasts that rocked the neighborhood. When he was admitted to a nearby hospital he was suffering from intracranial hemorrhage and was in a level-three coma with fractures in his lower extremities and third-degree burns over 30% of his body. He went through emergency surgery and was placed in the ICU, where treatment including hypothermia was used to help regulate his intracranial pressure.

Strong-willed and eager to live, Tao survived his substantial injuries for almost a month until August 26 when his condition worsened. Tao’s family signed an agreement calling for no extreme measures, and the firefighter finally succumbed in the early hours of Saturday morning at 12:42am. Tao left behind his wife, two girls and a boy as well as a 73-year-old-mother.

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu posted a message on Facebook lauding Tao for his bravery and expressing the unbearable pain and grief caused by his passing. She pledged that the city would help his family in rebuilding their lives following the loss of their husband and father. Kaohsiung City Press Secretary Ting Yun-kung said later that the city government will spare no effort in taking care of Tao’s dependents and would assist with funeral arrangements.

Tao’s squad members in the Fire Brigade visited him often while he was in the hospital, recording the song, "You are my brother" and offering words of encouragement. Hoping for a miracle, the team members mourned his passing and noted that Tao "fought very hard right to the end."

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