Sun, Jul 15, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Coast guard to increase patrols

NO SWIMMING:After eight students who broke into an off-limits area of Shalun Beach were swept out to sea, officials decided to more than double coast guard patrols there

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff Writer, with CNA

A coast guard looks out over the sea at Shalun Beach in New Taipei City yesterday -morning as rescue workers set out in a rubber boat after eight students were washed away by the waves on Friday.

Photo: Wu Po-hsuen, Taipei Times

The New Taipei City (新北市) Government and the Coast Guard Administration have drawn up plans to prevent further drownings at Shalun Beach, New Taipei City, after eight students who broke into a controlled area were washed away, resulting in four of them drowning.

Twelve students from Zheng De Junior High School on Friday afternoon sneaked into a closed-off area of the beach where swimming is prohibited because of undercurrents, eddies and whirlpools.

Eight of the students were washed away by strong waves while playing in the water. Of the eight, four were rescued, though one is in critical condition after being taken to hospital, and four were found dead.

Because the accident occurred outside of beach patrol hours, from 2pm to 6pm, the lack of supervision for most of the day prompted the city government to make a number of changes to improve safety.

Hours after the accident, New Taipei City Deputy Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) said the government would coordinate with the coast guard to extend patrols by six hours from 8am to 6pm.

Hou said he would ask the fire department to put a 24-hour -inspection mechanism in place and possibly fine people who enter the prohibited area.

Shalun Beach, formerly known as the Shalun Seashore Swimming Area, had been off limits since 1999 because of undercurrents and whirlpools.

The water also contains heavy metals and active bacteria from pollution due to construction work on a new town along the Tamsui shoreline.

Since the closure of the beach, 18 people have drowned there, according to fire department records, but there are still people who ignore the warnings, city officials said.

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