Several city and county heads in southern Taiwan extended apologies Tuesday after deciding to allow school and office closures only in the second half of the day, when Typhoon Megi was certain to sweep across Taiwan, bringing strong winds and heavy rain.
Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (??), facing increasing public criticism over the decision that caused concern over the safety of school children, said she was "very sorry."
Future policy decisions in this regard will take all sorts of factors into consideration, she said.
Winds of up to 102 kilometers per hour swept across the southern municipality at around noon, pulling down or snapping some trees. Light rail and ferry services were mostly suspended, according to a CNA report from Kaohsiung.
Chen's Facebook page was flooded with messages complaining that the half-day school and office closure was a decision that lacked empathy. Some said they had to pick their children up at schools while the wind and rain was picking up strength.
The mayor explained that she made the decision based on typhoon data released by the Central Weather Bureau. She said she could "understand" that the half-day closure measure would cause inconvenience to parents.
Powerful winds injured one elementary school teacher and one student in Kaohsiung while the schools were still open Tuesday. They each hurt their fingers when their hands got pinched in a door.
Apart from Kaohsiung, Tainan, Chiayi County, Chiayi City, and Yunlin County also took the same measure of closing schools and offices for only a half day Tuesday, eliciting the same kinds of complaints from the public.
Asked about the controversy, Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te (???) said the safety of citizens is the top priority when deciding whether to call a typhoon day. However, he said he must also take the city's productivity and competitiveness into consideration.
He asked for the public's understanding for the half-day-off measure, which he said was decided based on weather forecast data Monday evening that showed the weather condition in Tainan would not reach the standards for school and office closures for Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, Chiayi Magistrate Chang Hwa-kuan (???) and Chiayi Mayor Twu Shiing-jer (???) also apologised for the inconvenience they caused for people, as their Facebook pages were flooded with complaints.
More than 2.73 million homes were without power as of 5:18 p.m. Tuesday islandwide as Typhoon Megi battered Taiwan with strong gusts and heavy rain.
In addition, 75 injuries related to the storm had been reported from around Taiwan, mostly from central parts of the country, and more than 8,000 people had been evacuated from disaster-prone areas, according to Central Emergency Operation Center statistics.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel