Mon, Aug 10, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Downpour continues to pummel south

WASHED AWAY In Taitung County, stores were swept up by the Jhihben River and a hotel collapsed into the waters. Guests and staff had already been evacuated

By Meggie Lu, Shelley Shan and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Twenty bridges, including the Dajin (大津) and Liukuei (六龜) bridges on Provincial Highway 27, Shuangyuan Bridge (雙園大橋) on Highway 17, Sinciwei (新旗尾) and Mingtzu bridges (民族) on Highway 21, No. 1 Bridge on Highway 24 and Ciwei Bridge (旗尾橋) on Highway 28, were either damaged or washed away.

Media reported that two cars may have been washed away when the Shuangyuan Bridge, which connects Kaohsiung and Pingtung counties collapsed. Three people were reported missing.

Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) express trains along the west coast could not go south of Chiayi yesterday because of the floods in Tainan, Kaohsiung and Pingtung counties.

The TRA also suspended services on the South Link (南迴鐵路) because of flooding in Taitung’s Taimali Township and Pingtung’s Linbian Township (林邊).

TRA trains on the east coast had to stop at Chishang (池上) in Taitung County after the Luyeh River (鹿野溪) broke its banks, preventing them from continuing on to Taitung City.

The Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) also limited the number of trains on the Taipei to Taichung stretch yesterday.

As of yesterday afternoon, agricultural losses were estimated at NT$2.1 billion (US$641 million), with 20,432 hectares of farmland damaged by flooding and strong winds, the Council of Agriculture said.

Six counties — Kaohsiung, Pingtung, Hualien, Taichung, Tainan and Taitung — are qualified for aid according to the Agricultural Natural Disaster Relief Regulations (農業天然災害救助辦法), the council said, adding that farmers in these areas could apply for relief money and low-­interest loans.

The council said NT$894 million in crops had been damaged, with banana crops taking the hardest hit. A total of 2,172 hectares of banana trees were ravaged by the storm.

Approximately NT$44.29 million in poultry perished in the flooding, while losses to the aquaculture sector totaled NT$63.19 million, with 107 hectares of fish farms in Pingtung County’s Jiadong (佳冬) and Gaoshu (高樹) townships damaged.

In Tainan’s Hsuehchia Township (學甲), thousands of pigs drowned, posing a serious risk of disease, in addition to the economic losses, officials said.

Damage to agricultural facilities amounted to NT$85.53 million and damage to the forestry industry was estimated at NT$8.58 million.

Meanwhile, the council issued “red alerts” yesterday for 452 riverside areas in 11 counties.

The areas, in 206 villages in ­Chiayi, Tainan, Kaohsiung, Pingtung, Taitung, Taichung, Nantou, Yunlin, Taoyuan, Hsinchu and ­Miaoli counties, were on “red alert” because of the risk of soil saturation and landslides.

The council said that once a “red alert” has been issued, the local government is responsible for warning residents and evacuating them if necessary.

The council also issued “yellow alerts” for 328 areas in 129 villages in 12 counties that were at risk from rockslides and mudslides over the next few days.

Also yesterday, Vice Premier Paul Chiu (邱正雄) established a disaster relief command center in Pingtung County, headed by Minister of the Interior Liao Liou-yi (廖了以).

Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) traveled to the Linbian Interchange, Pingtung and Kaohsiung counties to inspect flooded areas.

Liu said he would stay overnight in southern Taiwan to monitor the disaster relief efforts.

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