Fri, Apr 27, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Man drowns, lightning hits hikers in thunderstorms

SOGGY SPRING:A lightning strike on Lanyu meant the entire island was without power for about 30 minutes, forcing students to take class outside under the eaves

By Chen Hsin-jen and Chen Feng-li  /  Staff reporters

Students of Dongcing Elementary School, Lanyu, are forced to continue their classes outside, sheltering from heavy rain against the school building, during a power cut that affected the entire island.

Photo courtesy of Dongcing Elementary School

Heavy thundershowers that accompanied the arrival of a moisture-laden cold front caused numerous incidents yesterday, including two hikers injured by a lightning strike, a man who was washed away and drowned in a flash flood and an island-wide blackout on the outlying island Lanyu (蘭嶼, also known as Orchid Island).

A 14-person hiking group from Taipei City, New Taipei City (新北市) and Taoyuan County left early yesterday morning from the Beian campsite on Dongjun Mountain (東郡大山) in Nantou County, only to radio in an emergency hours later, reporting that their 61 year-old team leader, Hsu Wen-liang (許文良), and his 53 year-old teammate, Lin Chun-mei (林春梅), had been injured by lightning.

The hikers had entered the mountains from Rueisuei Township (瑞穗) in Hualien County on Sunday and had initially planned to exit the mountains from Sinyi Township (信義) in Nantou County on Tuesday.

After receiving the call, the police and fire department from Taipei City’s Xinyi District (信義) dispatched a rescue team, but bad weather in the mountainous region may mean it would take four to five days to reach the beleaguered hikers.

The rescue team has applied for the aid of an S-70 helicopter, but the weather prevented it from taking off yesterday, the rescue team said. The helicopter is standing by to take off as soon as conditions permit.

Meanwhile, a 48-year-old man, surnamed Tseng (曾), was washed away by a flash flood when he went to collect shrimp cages at the Jhangping River (樟平溪) in Jhongliao Township (中寮), Nantou County.

He was found dead downriver an hour later.

In Lanyu, a fierce storm comparable to a typhoon swept across the island at around 9:15am, and a bolt of lightning hit a transmission line, causing an islandwide blackout.

The power cut also forced students at the island’s Dongcing Elementary School to continue their classes outside.

The electricity across Lanyu was restored about 30 minutes later after engineers repaired the transmission lines.

According to the Lanyu weather station, the spring weather pattern is unstable and often produces convective thunderstorm cells in warm and humid weather.

Yesterday’s storm “left as quick as it came,” the station added.

Additional reporting by Wang Hsiu-ting

Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer

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