Celebrities, politicians join telethon to raise funds for Kaohsiung

Taipei, Aug. 7 (CNA) Celebrities, politicians and athletes came together to hold a star-studded telethon Thursday to raise funds for post-disaster recovery in the wake of the deadly gas explosions that killed dozens in Kaohsiung. As of 9:33 p.m., the telethon had raised over NT$52.89 million (US$1.76 million). Donations were being accepted at the local hotline at (02) 412-9995 and the international hotline at +886-2-412-9996. Taiwanese girl group S.H.E. and singers Elva Hsiao, David Tao and A-Lin were among the celebrities taking part in the event.
Ella Chen, the "E" of S.H.E., said she was worried, heartbroken and unable to sleep after learning about the July 31 explosions. "Please rest assured. People from around Taiwan will extend their hands and help you through this difficulty," she said to Kaohsiung residents. Selina Jen, the "S," who suffered severe burns in a special effects accident while filming a TV series in 2010, also gave her thoughts to affected residents and encouraged the injured to stay positive and remain strong. Vice President Wu Den-yih, who was mayor of Kaohsiung from 1990-1998, urged the public to contribute generously and pray for Kaohsiung. Other heavyweights from his party, the Kuomintang, included Taipei mayor candidate Sean Lien and New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu, who is up for reelection. They joined in and took calls as well. The participants will lead the audience in observing a minute of silence around midnight.
The four-hour telethon was jointly organized by The Red Cross Society of the Republic of China and local TV channels including Chinese Television System, Taiwan Public Television Service and Videoland. All proceeds from the telethon will go to the Kaohsiung City government for post-disaster recovery and reconstruction work. A propylene leak ignited in the city's Cianjhen and Lingya districts late on July 31, killing 30 and injuring over 300. (By Christie Chen)