Sat, Aug 08, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Two dead as nation braces for storm

TYPHOON DAY:Most cities and counties have canceled work and school today. The emergency operations center is back online after being down for three hours

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Mountainous waves strike Taitung County’s Fugang Fishing Port yesterday.

Photo: Huang Ming-tang, Taipei Times

The nation yesterday braced for the onslaught of Typhoon Soudelor, with Yilan County reporting at least two casualties and the national emergency operations center system going down for about three hours.

The Central Emergency Operations Center was set up by the Ministry of the Interior to coordinate reports from local governments about local storms and rainfall, as well as damage in their districts.

At about 11am yesterday, the center’s emergency information management system was down for nearly three hours, possibly due to a hacker attack, an official at the center said.

The system reported stability problems and half an hour later, the government portal — portal.emic.gov.tw — was not accessible.

The center does not rule out a hacker attack, the official said, but added that it could also be a problem with the server or transmission process.

It was the first time that the system has been continuously down for so many hours, but fortunately the database was not damaged, he added.

Before the system was restored at 2:10pm, the center used phone, fax and e-mail to contact emergency units across the country, the official said.

The first report of casualties related to Typhoon Soudelor emerged yesterday, with the eye of the storm on course to run directly into the nation and make landfall in eastern Taiwan early today.

An eight-year-old girl who was swept out to sea on a beach in Yilan County on Thursday was still missing as of yesterday afternoon, despite rescue attempts by emergency workers, the center said.

The coast guard unit based in Suao Township (蘇澳) said it had dispatched rescue vessels at 6am, but had to recall them because of high winds and rough seas.

The girl’s twin sister and their mother died after the three of them and another eight-year-old girl who survived were swept from shallow waters on Suao’s Neipi beach by swells caused by the approaching typhoon, authorities said.

The surviving girl stayed alive by clinging to the body of the twins’ mother before they were plucked from the water, rescuers said.

Meanwhile, preparations were well under way last night as the nation braced for the incoming storm.

As the storm hit the east coast, the Taiwan Railways Administration canceled its Puyuma Express trains running between Taipei and Taitung County, affecting almost 30,000 passengers. Trains along the western coast were not yet affected.

Taipei began closing its riverdike gates at 5pm, with authorities towing any remaining vehicles from riverside parking lots. Vehicles had been forbidden from entering the riverside areas throughout the day, with the city opening up “red” and “yellow” painted curbsides and school parking lots to accommodate vehicles.

Because of the added dangers of riding bicycles or scooters during the storm, YouBike ceased operations at 7pm. Fast-food chains such as McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut also announced that they would stop providing delivery services for the storm’s duration.

Hualien and Yilan suspended work and classes for the whole day yesterday, while other counties and municipalites followed suit after 6pm yesterday.

At press time, Keelung, Taipei, New Taipei City, Taoyuan, Hsinchu city and county, Taichung, Changhua County, Yunlin County, Chiayi city and county, Kaohsiung, Tainan, Pingtung City, Taitung County, Hualien County, Yilan County and Penghu County had declared today a typhoon day.

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