Mon, Jul 05, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Death toll from Mindulle's rains rises

DEVASTATION MOUNTS Eighteen deaths are blamed on the storm, which has caused the worst flooding in southern Taiwan in 25 years -- and more rain is to come


Holiday cottages along the Peikang River in Kuohsing township, Nantou County, were damaged or destroyed yesterday by the floods resulting from the torrential rains brought by tropical storm Mindulle.


Continuous torrential rains brought by tropical storm Mindulle yesterday caused more devastating damage to the center and south of the country, raising the death toll to 18 with 10 others missing, officials said.

The latest victims were a mother and a son buried alive by landslides at Puli, Nantou County, said the National Fire Agency.

Rescuers found a third victim, who was previously listed as missing, on Penghu.

More damage is expected as weather forecasters said yesterday that the heavy rains might not an end until Wednesday.

According to the Council of Agriculture, initial agricultural losses are estimated at NT$1.85 billion (US$55 million), including loss of crop land worth NT$1.46 billion, NT$65.42 million in animal deaths, NT$224.15 million in fishery losses and NT$91.97 million for forestry losses.

Officials said that about 33,595 hectares of crop fields had been damaged, 1.1 million fowl have died, more than 4,500 hectares of fish farms have been destroyed and nearly 900 hectares of forest has been ruined.

In addition, the council might need to spend about NT$511.27 million reconstructing damaged facilities needed by fishing ports and irrigation systems.

Council officials said Yunlin County has suffered the highest agricultural losses so far -- NT$481.67 billion -- followed by Nantou County with NT$327.32 million and NT$300 million for Hualien County.

Three hydroelectric power plants along the swollen Tachia River have flooded, causing equipment damage estimated at NT$10 billion, the state-run Taiwan Power Co said.

"As the communication with the staff at the power plants was cut off, the extent of the damage was not clear. The cost was calculated for the worst scenario," a Taipower spokes-woman said.

The 0702 Flood Disaster Relief Center led by Minister of Economic Affairs Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥) yesterday added seven Nantou County townships to the list of mudflow-prone areas.

As of yesterday, 81 townships in 12 jurisdictions had been deemed as vulnerable to landslides and mudflows.

"We have suggested that local governments evacuate residents in these danger areas as soon as possible," Ho said.

As of yesterday, the Soil and Water Conservation Bureau had evacuated more than 1,000 residents living in dangerous areas.

After inspecting Nantou County yesterday afternoon, Minister of the Interior Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) said the central government would help the local governments in handing out disaster grants to affected residents.

In Chiayi County, 62 percent of families in coastal Tungshih township, or roughly 5,400 households, have been inundated by floodwaters since Mindulle struck.

As rains weakened yesterday the Water Resources Agency's mobile pumps helped lower water levels in the township.

However, officials warned that rising waters in Pachang Creek in Chiayi County and the Kaoping River dividing Pingtung and Kaohiung counties have created a dangerous situation and they urged people to avoid river embankments.

The Central Weather Bureau said rainfall amounted to 1,500mm over the past three days, including 694mm in Kaohsiung County and 433mm rain on Alishan yesterday.

Weather forecasters said residents in the center and south should remain alert for more heavy rains today and tomorrow and people in mountainous areas should be on the alert for landslides, mudflows and mountain torrents.

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