Sun, Jun 11, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Rain brings on havoc nationwide

INUNDATION A Kaohsiung-bound train derailed after a mudslide, trapping 600 people, while the president toured flooded areas of Miaoli and Yunlin counties

By Shelley Shan, Jimmy Chuang and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Several days of heavy rain have taken a toll, inundating several areas, causing transportation havoc and millions of NT dollars in agricultural losses.

Due to a mudslide, a southbound express train to Kaohsiung derailed yesterday morning near Nanshih (南勢) in Miaoli County. Three cars were tilted to the side, causing six injuries and trapping 600 passengers. The accident forced the Taiwan Railway Administration to close its mountain line, with trains operating only on the coast line.

The airport in Kaohsiung was shut down three times yesterday the morning, which caused delays of numerous flights. Forty-five flights at the CKS International Airport were also affected.

Some local roads, as well as provincial and national highways, were closed because of flooding and dangerous road conditions.

In addition, 5,300 households in the mountainous areas of Nantou and Taichung counties were suffering power outages yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture and Food Agency reported that agricultural losses from the rain had amounted to NT$413 million (US$12.9 million) as of yesterday. Farmers with crops such as watermelons, pears, citrus fruits, apricots, grapes and vegetables suffered the most losses, it added.

The agency also announced yesterday that it would release 250 tonnes of vegetables in cold storage each day to balance market supply and demand. Currently, it has 5,763 tonnes of vegetables in stock.

The average retail price for vegetables rose, hitting NT$30.13 per kilogram yesterday, up from NT$23.91.

The Taipei Agricultural Products Marketing Co estimated the volume of vegetables that arrived at the market yesterday at 911 tonnes, compared with 1,117 tonnes on Friday.

According to the agency, losses were minor at most vegetable farms around the country, but the torrential rain of the past few days had prevented many farmers from harvesting their goods. Farmers in Nantou County were unable to ship produce out of town because of serious road damage.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), accompanied by Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), visited flooded areas in Chiayi County yesterday and were briefed by Chiayi County Commissioner Chen Ming-wen (陳明文), of the Democratic Progressive Party, about the damage.

President Chen asked the Executive Yuan to provide more water pumps to handle the flooding.

Low-lying areas in the county are now under water because the rain has caused main rivers to surge above regular levels.

The president, while making a separate inspection in Yunlin County, directed the Cabinet to appropriate NT$20 million in emergency flood relief for the county.

Chen Ming-wen said that due to heavy rain over the past few days, all three major rivers that run through the county have overflowed.

While the county government has dispatched all of its 50 pumps to help address the situation, he estimated that at least another 10 pumps would be needed.

Su said he hoped that lawmakers would help approve the Cabinet's NT$80 billion budget for flood prevention, which has been pending since last summer, as soon as possible so the government could help solve flood problems in several cities and counties.

Chen Ming-wen made a similar request to Su and said Chiayi would not ask for too much.

"Of the NT$80 billion, we just need around NT$6.8 billion," Chen Ming-wen said.

The premier said he would be happy to do more for the people but that it was difficult for him to do so if there was no money.

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