Taiwan's President Defends Handling of Typhoon Relief བོད་སྐད།

Taiwan's defense minister and the secretary-general of the Cabinet have resigned to take responsibility for the government's slow response to Typhoon Morakot.

Officials and media reports say Defense Minister Chen Chao-min and Cabinet Secretary-General Hsueh Hsiang-chuan submitted their resignations Wednesday.

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has ordered an investigation into the government's mishandling of relief efforts following the typhoon.

Mr. Ma told reporters Tuesday the investigation will identify the mistakes and punish those responsible for them.

Deputy Foreign Minister Andrew Hsia resigned Tuesday in the wake of the natural disaster. The president said he will most likely accept the resignation of Hsia, who instructed Taiwan's diplomats to decline foreign aid.

Taiwan's official death toll is 127, but several hundred people are still missing following floods and landslides caused by the storm. Material losses are estimated at more than $3 billion.

President Ma said disaster prevention and rescue will be the main task of Taiwan's military in the future as forces of nature seem to be the island's main enemy.

Since Taiwan began accepting aid last Thursday, more than 60 countries have donated about $2 million in cash and relief supplies to help the Taiwan army, which is carrying out relief operations.

Mr. Ma repeatedly apologized to victims' families and said he accepted full responsibility for the mishandling of the typhoon relief efforts.

But he noted that 39,000 people have been evacuated from mountain villages in the past 10 days, despite heavy rains hampering rescue efforts in the storm's aftermath.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.