Sat, Oct 23, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Rescue teams toil as Megi takes its toll

DEADLY DROP:A tour bus carrying Chinese tourists was found after plunging 100m down a ravine when it was hit by falling rocks on the Suhua Highway

Staff Writer, with agencies

Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) told reporters yesterday that the government was exerting all efforts to ensure that those stranded remained safe.

Meanwhile, seven people were found dead in a temple engulfed by mudslides set off by the typhoon, an official said yesterday, warning that others might be buried under the debris.

Rescuers dug up seven bodies, including two nuns, buried under the debris of Bai Yun Temple (白雲寺) in Suao an official at the local fire department said.

Yilan County Commissioner Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢) said rescuers were using bulldozers to try to dig out two other people.

Although the rain was continuing in the northeast yesterday, it was beginning to abate, while rain and wind was increasing in the south with the approach of Megi.

Residents in parts of Yilan, Taipei and Hualien counties, however, were warned to remain alert to the dangers of torrential rain or extremely torrential rain, defined as 24-hour rainfall exceeding 200mm and 350mm respectively, because of the combined effects of Megi’s outer rim and seasonal winds, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said.

The CWB reported that as of 9:15pm, Megi was centered 180km south-southwest of Penghu, moving north at 10kph toward China.

The storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 137kph and gusts of 173kph, was affecting the southwestern coast and was posing a direct threat to that area and to the outlying islands of Penghu and Kinmen, the CWB said.

In Kaohsiung yesterday afternoon, the city government announced that classes and public services were suspended for the rest of the day. It also ordered all city fire fighters, police and rescue personnel to remain on standby for any possible contingencies.

In addition to Kaohsiung City, Kaohsiung County, Tainan City and Pingtung County announced class and office closures for the remainder of the day.

The central government also updated its red-coded landslide warning earlier in the day, reporting that the number of rivers in danger of bursting their banks and causing landslides downstream had been reduced from 96 to 43, all in Yilan County.

The report also said the number of yellow-coded rivers had been increased from 142 to 195, all of which were in either Taipei City, or in Yilan and Taipei counties.

CWB statistics showed that from Thursday midnight to 11am yesterday, precipitation had reached 685mm in Qingtiangang (擎天崗) in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林), 568mm in Taiping (泰平), Taipei County, 406mm in Chishan (池山), Pingtung County, and 294mm in Wudu (五堵), Keelung.

Accumulated precipitation in Yilan County’s Suao Township had reached 1,064mm as of 9am, breaking the previous record of 808.5mm recorded in Pingtung County’s Dawu Township (大武) during Typhoon Morakot in August last year.

Because of the heavy rain, 50 houses in Suao were destroyed by landslides, with broad swaths of farmland in Yilan County under several meters of water, the CEOC said. No casualties were reported in those landslides as more than 2,500 residents had been evacuated, it said.

Meanwhile, Taipei City Government apologized for advising about the closing of the floodgates along the Keelung River (基隆河) too late and promised to give a NT$20,000 compensation to owners of waterlogged cars.

Those whose scooters were submerged in the flood would receive compensation of NT$2,000, the city government said.

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