Sun, May 15, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Brace for flooding, bureau says

WEATHER WARNING In mountainous areas and in the north of Taiwan, the weather bureau says that flash mudslides and floods may occur this weekend

By Wang Hsiao-wen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Two cyclists enjoy a ride in puddles in Taipei's Riverside Park after a heavy rainfall.

PHOTO: LO TEH-PEI, TAIPEI TIMES

As periodic thunderstorms hit the island, the Central Weather Bureau yesterday issued an alert for heavy downpours over the weekend in the nation's western half and northeastern area. Six missing people are feared dead and two were drowned, according to the National Disaster Prevention and Relief Center.

"Torrential rain will sweep across the western plain and drench the northeast's mountainous areas for the next two days," the director of the bureau's forecasting center Daniel Wu (吳德榮), said yesterday.

High amounts of rainfall were recorded in Taipei County and Nantou County yesterday. Shihmen Township in Taipei County saw 183mm of rain, while neighboring Jinshan Township also received about 151mm yesterday. Jenai township in Nantou County, which is often ravaged by typhoons and earthquakes, was also soaked with 88mm of rain.

"Along the Central Mountain Range there will be torrential rain. Rain could trigger mudslides and the river may burst its banks in the mountain areas, spreading from northeastern Hsinchu down to southern Chiayi," Wu said.

The bureau forecast a rainy, cold weekend because of treacherous weather conditions in the seas north of Taiwan.

"As the front lingers north of Taiwan, warm air currents from the land and the cold air in the atmosphere will produce to thunderstorm cells. We can't predict when the thunderstorm cells will finally go away until [tomorrow]" Wu said.

People are urged to avoid mountainous areas, where sudden rainfall could trigger flash landslides.

The Council of Agriculture issued mudslide warnings in six counties yesterday, including 20 townships and 73 remote villages in Hsinchu County, Miaoli County, Taichung County, Taichung City, Nantou County and Chiayi County.

"We have informed all the residents in the `red zone' areas. In case of a disaster, local fire departments and police will help evacuate residents," said Huang Cheng-chuan (黃振全), section chief at the Soil and Water Conservation Bureau.

The death toll from heavy rain remained at eight yesterday. Two were found drowned -- one in Miaoli and one in Hsinchu. Three mountain climbers were missing in a mudslide accident in Nantou County on Friday. Three people are reported missing in Miaoli, Taitung, and Hsinchu. The Bureau called for residents along rivers and low-lying areas to brace for flooding for the next two days.

"If the river bursts its banks, residents must leave their homes and go to higher ground," Wu warned.

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