Sat, Aug 06, 2005 - Page 1 News List

More rain as Matsa heads for China

DAMAGING VISIT No casualties have been reported from the typhoon, but landslides and mudslides hit several areas and power outages affected thousands

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AFP

A section of the Kukuan covered roadway in Taichung County collapsed after its foundations were undermined by heavy rains brought by Typhoon Matsa. The covered roadway was just completed last year.

PHOTO: TAIPEI TIMES

The edge of Typhoon Matsa moved away from Taiwan by midnight last night, but Central Weather Bureau officials warned residents in the north and mountainous areas in center and the south to stay alert for mudslides.

With a radius of 250km, Matsa, the second typhoon to hit the country this year, was moving north-northwest away from Taiwan toward China at 14kph.

No casualties had been reported as of press time last night, but the torrential rain and strong winds brought by the medium-strength storm caused landslides in the north and center of the country, blocking roads, washing away bridges and forcing the evacuation of more than 1,000 people.

Several hundred people were trapped in mountain areas after mudslides blocked roads.

LAND WARNINGS LIFTED

The weather bureau lifted its land warnings for the typhoon at 9pm last night, when the epicenter of the storm was 260km north-northwest of Taipei.

"Mountainous areas in the center and south need to brace for heavy rains through Sunday," said Lin Hsiu-wen (林秀雯), deputy director of the bureau's Weather Forecast Center.

Matsa brought 1,400mm of rain to mountainous areas in Hsinchu and Miaoli counties, and 1,200mm in Taoyuan County, exceeding the bureau's forecast, officials said.

Matsa's maximum sustained winds were 144kph with gusts of up to 180kph.

Matsa wreaked havoc with power supplies, leaving 56,211 households in the dark. As of 6:30pm yesterday, the Taiwan Power Co had restored electricity to 52,101 households, the company said on its Web site.

WATER PROBLEMS

The torrential rains polluted water supplies and damaged pipelines, causing water shortages for more than 80,000 households in Hsinchu. Water shortages were also experienced in Taoyuan County after water turbidity in the Shihmen Dam (石門水庫) reached 25,000 NTU (nephelometric turbidity units), the Water Resources Agency said.

The Taiwan Water Corp has promised to restore water supplies as soon as possible, and set up several temporary supply stations in the affected areas.

Agricultural production, still reeling from Typhoon Haitong, was battered again. Statistics released by the Council of Agriculture yesterday afternoon showed losses of NT$36.49 million (US$1.14 million).

To stabilize the supply of vegetables, the council has released frozen vegetables from its stocks and coordinated the release of more with other organizations, the council said in a statement.

Air traffic, which was disrupted by the typhoon yesterday, will be restored today, airlines said.

Meanwhile, nearly 600,000 people were evacuated yesterday in Zhejiang Province as China braced for Matsa's arrival. The typhoon was expected to make landfall near Wenzhou city in Zhejiang late last night or early today, Chinese meteorologists said.

Chinese state media predicted it would be the worst storm to hit Shanghai in nearly a decade and flood prevention officials urged residents living on the shore in suburban areas to evacuate.

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