Taiwan fears impact of Japan-style disaster
Taipei (AFP) April 19, 2011
Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou warned Tuesday the island would find it difficult to cope with simultaneous disasters similar to the quake and tsunami that struck Japan last month.
"Taiwan is exposed to many kinds of natural disasters. If they were to happen at the same time, it would be very hard for us to handle them," he said.
Ma made the remark while observing a drill in southern Taiwan's Pingtung county simulating a tsunami hitting a nuclear plant, as happened at Japan's Fukushima facility.
The scenario for the exercise -- the largest in the south since 2009 when the area was ravaged by disastrous floods -- also included massive inundation sparked by a powerful typhoon, local government officials said.
Tsao Chi-hung, Pingtung county's top official, especially pointed out the danger posed to the island by tsunamis.
"As of now, neither the local nor the central government has experience in protection against tsunamis," Tsao said.
"Should that happen, the damage they could bring to nuclear power plants would be hard to estimate," he said.
Taiwan's government released a report last week warning that if an 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck the Manila Trench, a geologic fault west of the Philippines, it could generate a tsunami that would reach southern Taiwan.
Taiwan has faced pressure to halt operations at three nuclear power plants and stop the construction of a fourth after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, crippling a nuclear plant.
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