Sun, Aug 19, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Sepat injures twenty four, forces evacuations

IMPACT Potential mudslides caused 1,785 people to evacuate their homes in mountain villages, while one person died and another was injured while driving

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES

People struggle to hold on to their umbrellas on a Taipei street as Typhoon Sepat hit Taiwan yesterday, bringing strong winds and heavy rain.

PHOTO: LIAO CHEN-HUEI, TAIPEI TIMES

Typhoon Sepat lashed the country with strong winds and torrential rain yesterday, cutting power to nearly 95,000 homes, injuring twenty four people and forcing more than 1,000 others to evacuate.

Four people suffered minor injuries in Taipei after being blown off their motorcycles while one man was wounded by falling rocks in Kaohsiung, the National Fire Agency said.

Another 1,785 people had to evacuate their homes in mountain villages that were threatened by mudslides, the Central Disaster Control Center said.

Officials at the center added that one person had died and another was injured while driving in bad weather on Friday, but the case was considered a road accident and not a storm-related casualty.

Several vehicles were crushed by a falling billboard in Taipei, scaffolding collapsed at a building on the outskirts of the city and, in mountainous areas such as Taichung County's Lishan (梨山), workers battled to clear uprooted trees and rocks blocking roads.

Nearly 95,000 homes suffered from power outages, the center said.

"Initially, there were more than 240,000 homes without electricity cuts, but the repairs are already done for over 140,000 households," a center official said.

"Some of the unrepaired ones are located in the hardest hit areas, including Hualien, Taitung and Nantou counties," he said.

The eye of the typhoon, which passed over the estuary of the Hsiukuluan River (秀姑巒溪) in Hualien County at 5:40am yesterday, left Taiwan proper at the mouth of the Choshui River (濁水溪) in western Taiwan at 11am, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said yesterday.

Strong winds and heavy rain are forecast for today as Sepat moves away, it said.

However, the bureau said that the nation will be out of the coverage of storm by today.

By 8pm yesterday, the center of Sepat was 80km north of Penghu. It was moving northwest at 13kph.

Sepat's radius reached 250km. The maximum wind speed near the center was measured at 126kph.

Lu Kuo-chen (呂國臣), a section chief at the CWB's weather forecast center, said Sepat had changed from a strong typhoon into a tropical storm after it made landfall.

He warned, however, that Taiwan proper as well as Green Island (綠島), Lanyu (蘭嶼), Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu (馬祖) should still be prepared for strong winds and heavy rain.

From midnight through 2pm yesterday, accumulated rainfall had reached 727mm in Hualien County, 636mm in Ilan County, 363mm in Taipei County, 346mm in Taoyuan County, 331mm in Taichung County, 322mm in Nantou County, 307mm in Hsinchu County, 294mm in Kaohsiung County, 266mm in Taitung County and 262mm in Chiayi County, CWB data showed.

All Taiwan Railway Administration express trains were canceled yesterday. Some commuter trains continued to operate on certain sections of the network.

The Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp canceled all trains leaving before 6pm yesterday.

It resumed service at 6pm yesterday and announced that all of its trains will run today.

Due to the inclement weather, Uni Air announced that flights leaving before 12pm today, including return flights from Kinmen and Penghu and flights between Taipei and Taitung, would be canceled. Those flights will resume after noon today.

However, all Taipei-Hengchun (恆春) and Taichung-Matsu flights will be canceled today.

Far Eastern Air Transport also said yesterday that flights leaving for the nation's surrounding islands before 12pm today would be canceled.

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