From subway stations to shopping malls, Taiwan prepares air-raid shelters

#SootinClaimon.Com : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Taiwan is preparing its air-raid shelters as rising Chinese military pressure and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine focus new attention on the possibility of a Chinese attack on the democratic island.

From subway stations to shopping malls, Taiwan prepares air-raid shelters

China considers Taiwan its territory and has increased military activity around the island. Taiwan vows to defend itself and has made strengthening its defences a priority, with regular military and civil defence drills.

Last month, Taiwan held a comprehensive air-raid exercise across the island for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic disrupted regular drills.

Among the instructions citizens got in case of incoming missiles was to get down in their basement parking lots with their hands covering their eyes and ears while keeping their mouth open — to minimise the impact of blast waves. But some civil defence advocates say more needs to be done.

“We have to be more diligent in preparing. To put it bluntly, we are quite scared and there is no way to know if this thing (war) will also happen here,” said Yang Yu-tung, a local government official.

Other preparations include designating shelters where people can take cover if Chinese missiles start flying in, not in purpose-built military bunkers but in existing underground spaces like basement car parks, parts of the subway system and underground shopping centres.

The capital of Taipei has more than 4,600 such designated shelters that can accommodate some 12 million people, more than four times its population. Entrances are marked with a yellow label, about the size of an A4 piece of paper, with the maximum number of people it can take.

Enoch Wu of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party says he is trying to prepare members of the public for the worst case scenario of having to hide away in a “bare-bones shelter” in his workshops, showing them how to prepare survival kits to take with them into shelters.

Authorities are required by law to keep the shelters clean and open, but they don’t have to be stocked with emergency supplies like food and water. Researchers at parliament called in June for shelters to be provided with emergency supplies.

However, many in Taiwan are still unaware of the shelter system that stretches under much of the city.

Harmony Wu, 18, was surprised to learn that an underground shopping concourse where she and other youngsters were practising dance would become an air-raid shelter in the event of war. But she said she could see why.

“We aren’t prepared and won’t immediately realise when war has arrived, we might still be laughing and having fun without knowing that outside the war already started.”

Taipei officials have been updating their database of designated shelters, putting their whereabouts on a smartphone app, and launching a social media and poster campaign to make sure people know how to find their closest one.

A senior official in the city office in charge of the shelters said events in Europe had brought a renewed sense of urgency.

“Look at the war in Ukraine… normal buildings, organisations or schools could get hit by strikes too,” Abercrombie Yang, a director of the Taipei City Building Administration Office, told Reuters. “In the same vein, Taiwan could face the same situation.”

Published : August 02, 2022

By : Reuters

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