Thu, May 18, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Distant typhoon packs a punch for local commuters

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Torrential rain brought by the system containing Typhoon Chanchu brought havoc to parts of the nation yesterday, damaging roads and causing several traffic accidents.

Chanchu was predicted by the US Joint Typhoon Warning Center to track north along China's interior before weakening and moving offshore near Shanghai.

The outer reaches of the storm, which was expected to make landfall in southern China last night, triggered landslides as far away as the Suhua Highway between Suao (蘇澳) in Ilan County and Hualien, closing the road early yesterday morning. Access was restored in the afternoon after the fallen rocks were removed.

Traffic on a highway connecting Hengchun (恆春) with the rest of Pingtung County to the north was temporarily stalled as heavy rain flooded the area.

Two makeshift bridges outside Tawu (大武) Village in Pingtung County's Wutai Township (霧台) were swept away, blocking the only access route to the mountain village.

A tour bus in Penghu County hit a kiosk on the roadside, leaving two passengers seriously injured. Five other passengers suffered minor injuries.

Shipping and passenger services between Kinmen, Matsu, Kaohsiung, Tainan and Penghu were suspended yesterday. The airport on Lanyu in Taitung County was also closed.

The Kinmen, Penghu, Lienchiang and Tainan city and county governments announced yesterday that government workers and students could take today off.

For flights from all airports in Taiwan, Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu, including CKS International Airport, passengers were advised to contact their airline for an update.

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) ordered the government to monitor the storm closely, adding that it should not underestimate its force.

An emergency center was formed yesterday to assist local governments in dealing with storm damage.

The Central Weather Bureau issued a land warning at 2:30pm yesterday for Tainan and Taichung counties as Chanchu, the first typhoon of the season, tracked to the northeast.

Meanwhile, all 13 crew members aboard a small oil tanker that ran aground off Kaohsiung Harbor have been rescued, Coast Guard Administration officials reported yesterday.

The officials said the 1,515-tonne Bolivia-registered oil tanker Lucky Star sent out a call for assistance at around 6:47am.

The coast guard sent two vessels to try to tow the oil tanker, but they were unable to get near the ship due to rough seas caused by the typhoon.

The Coast Guard then dis-patched a helicopter to conduct the rescue, which took nearly one hour.

The oil tanker has only a small amount of fuel oil aboard, and the coast guard is continuing to monitor the ship to detect and deal with an oil spill if it occurs.

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