Typhoon Mindulle kills two

By Wang hsiao-wen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sat, Jul 03, 2004 - Page 1

Leaving at least two people dead in its wake, Typhoon Mindulle was expected to leave Taiwan last night, dumping more rain onto the island's central and southern regions, the Central Weather Bureau said yesterday.

The rainfall brought by Mindulle has temporarily relieved the thirst of southern Taiwan, which has suffered a drought during the past months.

At least two people were killed during the storm as of press time last night. The pair was killed in a landslide on a road in Alishan.

Hualien resident Lee Cheng-nan (李忠男) was also reported missing after he went river fishing. Five students from National Chengchi University were trapped in the mountains of Hualien County and the Planning Division of Taroko National Park said it was trying to reach the students.

The storm, which packed winds of 90kph and gusts of up to 120kph as it swept past the nation, began dumping rain yesterday morning. Streets in Taipei County's Sanchung City and Pingtung's Dong-kong District were flooded.

Typhoon Mindulle brought 6.78cm of rainfall to Hualien County and 5.05cm to Taitung County.

The south also received around 3cm to 4cm rainfall. Water levels at Tsengwen Reservoir in Tainan County climbed higher, with 1.87cm of rainfall.

The storm also disrupted the eastern region's electric grid, leaving 53,206 households in Hualien and 12,063 households in Taitung without power. A total of 70,823 households nationwide were affected by blackouts.

Domestic air and sea traffic were also at a standstill yesterday. Airports in Taitung, Green Island, Lanyu and Hengchun were shut down, while all ferry services between Taiwan and its islets were interrupted. The Taiwan Railway Administration resumed operation after delaying trains on the Taipei-Hualien line yesterday afternoon.

The weather bureau said it could lift the land warning by 11:30pm last night and might issue an alert for heavy rain brought by the typhoon's wake.

Typhoon Mindulle affected domestic air transportation, causing a temporary closure of Taipei's Sungshan Airport yesterday morning.

Domestic flights resumed normal operations around 3pm yesterday, while international flight schedules were unaffected, according to air carriers.

Business activity across Taiwan remained normal yesterday, while retailers saw marked growth in the sale of household necessities, such as instant noodles.

Brenda Yen (嚴必文), a public relations manager at the hypermarket chain Far Eastern Geant, said sales of instant noodles soared 130 percent over the past two days, compared with a week earlier.

The sales volume for bottled water and batteries also rose around 50 percent, she added.

Stockpiling of foods prior to a typhoon's arrival was not as prevalent as it has been in past years, but fears of shortages due to damaged crops may trigger retailers to raise prices of produce over the next few days.

Kaohsiung and Hualien counties reported agricultural losses at NT$10 million and NT$200 million, respectively, the Central News Agency said yesterday, citing estimates by county governments.

additional reporting by Jackie Lin