Mon, May 16, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Threat of landslides still looms, CWB officials say

WET AND WILD Deadly torrential rains over the past week have caused millions of dollars in crop damage and will be followed by more rain, the CWB cautioned

By Wang Hsiao-wen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The almost relentless downpour for the past three days has led to flooding in low-lying areas in northern Taiwan yesterday, and the threat of mudslides on mountain roads nationwide continued.

As of press time yesterday, no new casualties were added to the eight people who were killed as a result of the rains.

Muddy yellow water cascaded through streets in Taipei County's Sanchung and Hsinchuang townships yesterday afternoon. Residents in raincoats waded across the water-strewn streets as cars splashed their way through. Some underground passages and major intersections in Hsinchu were inundated with water and temporarily cordoned off.

Sudden landslides also buried some road sections in rock and sludge as a result of Saturday and yesterday's rains. As of yesterday afternoon, certain sections of the Tamjing Highway (淡金公路) connecting Tamshui and Jingshan in Taipei County, Northern Cross-Island Highway (北部橫貫公路), and Southern Cross-Island Highway (南部橫貫公路) were still under repair.

As people are busy cleaning mud brought by flooding, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) cautioned that yet another wave of heavy rain will sweep through the northern island on Thursday.

"The rain will ease a little tomorrow. But we expect to keep the rain alert because of the precarious weather condition," said Daniel Wu (吳德榮), director of the Central Weather Bureau's forecast center.

"Another wave of rain is expected to hit Taiwan as early as Thursday," he said. "Afternoon thunder showers will continue in the following days," Wu said.

The Soil and Water Conservation Bureau continued their warnings against mudslides and put five counties and Taichung City on "red alert" yesterday.

A total of 23 townships in the five counties -- Hsinchu, Miaoli, Taichung, Nantou and Chiayi -- as well Taichung City, were warned against possible landslides, according to the Soil and Water Conservation Bureau. A total of 5,576 residents in the mountainous villages or along rushing rivers will be evacuated.

As of press time yesterday, 216 rivers in Taiwan were listed as "red zones" meaning "flash landslides" could take place.

The nation's agricultural sector also was hit hard by the of torrential rains.

According to Council of Agriculture (COA), the preliminary estimate of damages suffered by the nation's agricultural sector has soared to NT$162 million yesterday. The pouring rain has affected a total of 3,975 hectares of crops -- approximately 22 percent of the total farming landmass. Crops damaged included leafy vegetables, watermelons, rice, corn and peanuts.

The animal husbandry industry also suffered NT$9.5 million in losses. The COA said that 233,000 chickens and 2,000 ducks perished during the past few days.

To help farmers ride out the rain, the COA has directed local governments to help farmers harvest unspoiled crops and facilitate their transportation.

Vegetable prices increased by 30 percent nationwide due to the crop damage.

Only 995 tonnes of fresh produce arrived in Taipei City on Saturday, a sharp decrease by 240 tonnes when compared with the day before.

Fearful of skyrocketing vegetables prices, the COA and several agricultural groups released 500 tonnes of refrigerated produce to meet nationwide food demands.

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