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Human error blamed for severe flooding at Taoyuan airport

2016/06/06 17:53:19

June 2, 2016 (CNA file photo)

Taipei, June 6 (CNA) Human factors were most responsible for the severe flooding seen at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport last week, a senior official with the Cabinet-level Public Construction Commission (PCC) said Monday.

The flooding resulted from rocks and stones blocking a section of the airport's drainage system, trapping rainwater until it surged to the surface, said PCC deputy chief Yan Jeou-rong (顏久榮) at a press conference held by the Cabinet.

After reaching ground level, muddy water flowed down to lower level areas in Terminal 2 of the airport via moving walkways and other openings, Yan said.

He also noted that key flood gates were not closed at the time when the water starting flowing in, he added.

The evidence suggests that "the disaster would not have happened if (the sewage system) had been clear," Yan said, concluding that human negligence was mostly to blame for the flooding.

A flash flood at the country's main air hub on June 2 forced the closure of the main road to the airport and led to a power outage at its Terminal 2, where the flooding was concentrated. More than 200 flights were delayed, affecting some 30,000 passengers.

When asked at the press conference who was responsible for the blocked drainage system, PCC chief Wu Hong-mo (吳宏謀) said the airport is managed by Taoyuan International Airport Corp., but construction companies were also active there.

He will ask the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) to find out if those construction units and their affiliates were responsible for the incident, Wu said.

Asked if the airport's procedures failed, resulting in the flood gates not being closed in time, Deputy Transportation Minister Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said it was a problem and resulted in floodwaters submerging the food court on the B2 level of Terminal 2.

Wang said he suspected the problem was caused by the airport company's poor facility management and lack of experience in handling emergency situations caused by heavy rainfall.

He noted that the ministry has demanded that the airport company check all flood gates at electricity substations and parking lots and increase the number of flood gates as necessary.

On the question of possible disciplinary action against those held liable, Wang only replied that anyone found responsible for the flooding would be disciplined.

(By Tai Ya-chen and Elizabeth Hsu)