Sat, Jul 15, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Weather bureau warns of heavy rains after Bilis

PRECAUTIONS Even though the tropical storm petered out as it made landfall, the meteorological bureau warned heavy rains could still cause problems

CNA , TAIPEI

Although Tropical Storm Bilis, which made landfall late on Thursday, had no significant impact, precautions should be taken against the possibility of torrential rain brought by the storm, a forecaster at the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) warned yesterday.

CWB Forecast Director Wu Teh-jung (吳德榮) said that although Bilis did not bring the strong winds and heavy rains because of its loose structure, he nevertheless warned about heavy precipitation, especially in eastern, southern and central Taiwan, over the next couple of days.

Areas north of Taoyuan and Hualien were now clear of any threat from Bilis as the storm made landfall in China's Fujian Province.

However, forecasters urged residents living in Taitung and areas south of Hsinchu, especially those in mountainous areas, to be on guard against torrential rain.

As of press time, local media outlets such as ETTV and SETV put the number of casualties at one dead and one missing. Major Huang Wen-hong (黃雯宏) of Pingtung was crushed to death by a big tree at a military camp, while a resident of Kaohsiung County was swept away by the flood and reported missing.

The Taipei City Department of Transportation yesterday announced that it would not collect street parking fees for Thursday and Friday because of Bilis.

The city closed flood gates on all river levees on Wednesday night in preparation for Bilis. To create more parking space for cars that were originally parked in levee parking lots, the department on Thursday lifted the ban on parking along streets with red or yellow lines.

Car owners who parked their cars in street parking spaces, however, were still required to pay parking fees.

Facing complaints from thousands of car owners, the department decided to refund street parking fees it had collected for Thursday and yesterday.

Department Commissioner Jason Lin (林志盈) said people who had already paid the fee could get a full refund by taking their receipts to their nearest convenience store or by calling 2726-9600.

Meanwhile, a power failure, very likely caused by a lightning strike, cut electricity to over 18,000 residents in Kaohsiung, including Kaohsiung City Hall, at around 1:50pm yesterday

An emergency response crew from Taipower's Kaohsiung branch carried out emergency repairs to a transformer substation, where the crew believed that the ground-fault switch had been tripped by a lightning strike.

The power supply was restored in around 10 minutes, Taipower officials said.

The Ministry of the Interior said yesterday that if anyone was caught venturing out to coastal areas to watch the high tides during a typhoon, they could be fined between NT$50,000 and NT$250,000.

Entering such warning zones is in violation of Article 31 of the Disaster Prevention and Rescue Law (災害防救法) which stipulates the command officer of the emergency operation center may, as required, designate a certain area off limits or restrict entry by vehicles, sea vessels or aircraft.

If anyone entering the designated areas ended up needing to be rescued by emergency services, the rescuers can demand rescue fees, they said.

From midnight until 3pm yesterday, the accumulated rainfall in Chiayi, Pingtung and Kaohsiung registered at least 350mm, with 434mm recorded in Pingtung's Shangtehwen, according to the CWB.

The total number of mudflow-prone rivers now stands at 654, and residents living in communities along these waterways will be evacuated for their own safety, council officials said.

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