Tue, Jul 06, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Rains bring new death and damage

LOSSES Tropical Storm Mindulle's death toll rose to 21, with thousands of people cut off in mountainous areas, including Nantou, Chiayi and Taichung counties

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES

A girl stands in water yesterday as her village in central Yunlin County is flooded after heavy rain brought by Tropical Storm Mindulle. The storm severely damaged the nation's agricultural sector, especially in Hualian, Nantou and Yunlin Counties.

PHOTO: LIN KUO-HSIEN, TAIPEI TIMES

Flooding caused by Tropical Storm Mindulle in central and southern parts of the nation has caused further calamity, with more deaths and damage reported from disaster areas yesterday. However, the heavy rains would continue until tomorrow, the Central Weather Bureau said yesterday.

According to the central government's July 2 Flood Disaster Relief Center, at 5pm yesterday the death toll increased to 21, while 14 people remained missing. Three newly-reported deaths included two unidentified bodies that were retrieved in Hoping and Tungshih townships in Taichung County.

The Council of Agriculture yesterday said that the accumulated agricultural losses had exceeded NT$3.3 billion.

Weather forecasters yesterday warned that people living in mountainous areas in central and southern Taiwan need to be alert for landslides, mud flows, flooding and lightning strikes today and tomorrow. Heavy rain might also affect the north of the country today.

In the last three days, cumulative rainfall at 40 monitoring stations in central and southern counties exceeded 1,000mm. At one station in Hsinan, Kaohsiung County, total rainfall for the last three days exceeded 2,000mm.

Taiwan's annual rainfall is about 2,500mm.

In stricken central counties, several major roads remained closed. Yesterday morning, Air Force helicopters began evacuating 1,000 people from mountainous Hoping township to military barracks or urban areas.

Victims had been sheltering at Poai Elementary School since Saturday when Mindulle struck. But rising riverwater inundated the school early yesterday morning, making it impossible for people to remain there.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday inspected affected townships in Nantou County, but ran into complaints from residents, who said the post-disaster distribution of materials was unsatisfactory.

"I've demanded that rescue and reconstruction efforts be performed immediately in all affected areas," Yu told residents.

After inspecting the county's seriously damaged Nuomi Bridge, which was built over a century ago, Yu promised to restore the historic monument as soon as possible.

In Shuili township, hundreds of hectares of grape vines were inundated with water after a 200m breach occurred in a protective embankment on the Chenyulan River.

Grape farmers complained to Yu about past government attempts to dredge the river. Crying loudly, one female farmer knelt before Yu and cried, "everything is gone."

At press time, thousands of residents in remote townships in Nantou, Chiayi and Taichung counties remained cut off.

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