Two people died, one person remained missing and another 104 were injured as Taiwan was battered by heavy rains and strong winds from Typhoon Soulik, the Central Emergency Operation Center said yesterday.
In Miaoli County, a 54-year-old woman died after falling from a rooftop, while in Greater Taichung a person was reported to have fallen into a river. The person was still missing at press time last night.
Chen Ching-rong (陳錦榮), a 50-year-old police officer stationed in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Tamsui District (淡水), was hit in the head by a brick that was blown off a house under construction while driving his scooter home yesterday morning after finishing his shift. He suffered severe head trauma and was pronounced dead soon after being taken to Mackay Memorial Hospital.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) visited the hospital yesterday to offer his condolences to Chen’s family and promised them the best possible state support.
New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) accompanied Ma to the hospital, where he said that since Chen was killed while on duty, the New Taipei City Government would offer the best compensation plan to his next of kin and inscribe his name in the National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine.
The Presidential Office said Ma canceled a trip he was meant to take to Greater Taichung yesterday afternoon to promote the cross-strait service trade agreement at the Dajia Jenn Lann Temple and celebrate his birthday with locals, so that he could monitor the situation in Taipei.
The office said Ma was keeping in close contact with Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and other top government officials to obtain the latest information on the typhoon.
Most of the injured incurred minor injuries from falling trees or flying debris and have already been discharged from the hospitals that treated them, the center said.
Soulik made landfall on the northeast coast at about 3am yesterday, packing winds of up to 190kph, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said. The eye of the storm left Taiwan at 8am after passing over Hsinchu County, it added.
Hsinchu’s Bailan Township (白蘭) accumulated the most rainfall in the nation, receiving 823mm between midnight on Thursday and 8am yesterday, the CWB said.
As of 6:15pm, the typhoon was centered 70km west-northwest of Matsu, moving north-northwest 25kph, the bureau said.
It was packing sustained winds of 108kph, with gusts reaching 137kph, the bureau added.
Nearly 960,000 homes across Taiwan experienced power cuts yesterday, half of which saw their electricity restored by the afternoon, Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) said.
Officials at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the country’s main gateway, said that Soulik disrupted 362 flights at the airport between midnight and 4pm yesterday.
Windows at boarding gates B4, B8 and B9 were damaged by strong winds.
Islandwide, 633 flights were affected by the storm, including 208 delays and 154 cancellations, officials said.
Before the typhoon struck, about 8,000 people had evacuated their homes and hundreds of soldiers were deployed to high-risk areas.
In the Siangshan (向善) area of Puli (埔里), a township in Nantou County, nine people were rescued from flooded homes after a swollen rover broke its banks.
“The water came very fast, catching residents totally unprepared. In some areas, it was one story deep,” a township official surnamed Wu (吳) said.