Thu, Aug 13, 2009 - Page 2 News List

MORAKOT: THE AFTERMATH: Satellite images tell deadly tale

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

A combination photo shows satellite images released on Tuesday by the Center for Space and Remote Sensing Research, National Central University, showing the Taimali River in Taitung County. The top photo was taken on Dec. 8 last year, the bottom photo was taken on Tuesday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Satellite images released on Tuesday demonstrated just how powerful the floods and mudslides unleashed by Typhoon Morakot in southern Taiwan were.

One of the most stunning images obtained by National Central University’s Center for Space and Remote Sensing Research shows the widening of the Taimali River (太麻里溪) in Taitung County.

The images showed that the upper stream of the river, which is normally approximately 10m wide, has spread to more than 800m, due in part to the large volume of mud and debris washed down from the mountain.

Chang Chung-pai (張中白), an associate professor at the center, said the mudslides observed in the wake of Morakot have been the largest on record.

“Mudflows observed in the past usually filled about 10km of the river,” he said of the 31km-long river.

“But the entire length of the Taimali River was filled with mudflows during this typhoon,” Chang said.

He said both the toppled Jinshuai Hotel in Taitung’s Jhihben (知本) hotspring area and the collapsed Shuangyuan Bridge (雙園大橋) in Kaohsiung County were located on the outer edge of a river bend, where the water’s momentum and erosive potential are the strongest.

Comparing the satellite images of the bridge taken on Jan. 14 and on Tuesday, the center found that the bridge broke up over the west side of the Gaoping River (高屏溪), the point where the water was deeper and the flow faster.

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