Families of mountain accident victims on Monday urged the government to improve the skills of rescue workers and post clear signs on hiking trails to prevent mountain climbing deaths.
Relatives of Chang Po-wei (張博崴) and another climber who suffered a fatal accident in the mountains delivered the appeal at a public hearing at the legislature on improving the mountain rescue system.
Chang, a student at Chung Shan Medical University, died while climbing Baigu Mountain (白姑大山) in Yunlin County in February.
According to Chang’s father, the main cause of mountain accidents is hikers getting lost, and he said that dangerous areas needed to be marked to prevent such tragedies.
TOO MANY MOUNTAINS
Forestry Bureau General Secretary Lin Hao-chen (林澔貞) said it would be difficult to post signs throughout the mountains quickly because of the sheer number of mountains in the country.
She said the bureau has added mountain signs, route planning systems and information platforms on more than 150 frequently used hiking trails around the country to date.
However, Lin acknowledged that detailed information for some higher-elevation mountains that are not often hiked was lacking and expected the situation would improve in collaboration with private organizations.
Chang’s mother also charged that the government’s rescue teams were incapable of mounting rescue missions for accidents in high-elevation areas. She said the teams sent to rescue her son and Lee Chun-sheng (李俊生), who died while climbing Nanhu Mountain (南湖大山) in Taroko National Park, Hualien County, in late 2006, failed to find the two hikers after 51-day and 46-day searches respectively.
However, private rescue teams were able to find Chang and Lee within one-and-a-half days and three days respectively, Chang’s mother said.
Wu Chun-ying (吳俊瑩), a division chief at the National Fire Agency, pledged that the agency would improve the physical conditioning of its rescue team members and sharpen their rescue skills.
Chang’s mother also said mountaineering education was inadequate in Taiwan, lamenting that students were burdened with Chinese and English lessons, but still could not read a map.