Tropical storm brings rain
A tropical depression located south of Taiwan had strengthened to a tropical storm late on Saturday, but is not expected to have a significant impact on Taiwan, the Central Weather Bureau said yesterday. Tropical Storm Vicente was centered 210km southwest of the Dongsha Islands (東沙群島), moving at 12kph in a west-northwesterly direction, according to officials. It was packing maximum sustained winds of 72kph, with gusts reaching 101kph. As the storm approaches, eastern Taiwan has experienced heavy rainfalls, with Donghe Township (東河) in Taitung County already seeing daily precipitation exceeding 148mm as of noon. However, besides regional showers and strengthening winds introduced by Vicente’s outer rim, the storm is not likely to bring extreme weather to the island, bureau officials said.
New rockets next month
The military is scheduled to take delivery next month of additional Ray Ting 2000, or “Thunder 2000,” multiple-rocket launch systems, as it plans to phase out the current rocket system introduced three decades ago, the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) reported. The multibarrel system, developed by the Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, can launch 40 rockets in a minute with a range of 45km, military experts cited in the report said. The system, which was first introduced in 1997, can neutralize amphibious craft before they reach the shore, they added. The truck-mounted launchers can be combat ready in eight minutes, less than half the time the current system needs to position itself, the report said. The ministry plans to produce more than 50 systems at a cost of NT$14.5 billion (US$483 million), media reported.
Population drop on hold
The nation’s population growth may not turn negative in 2023 as projected, but two to five years later, the Council for Economic Planning and Development said yesterday. In 2010, the council forecast that Taiwan’s population growth would hit zero in 2022 and enter negative territory in 2023. However, in a biennial report expected to be released today, the council changed its forecast, saying this may not happen until two to five years later since the country’s birthrate has been increasing. The latest report, Projections for ROC (Taiwan): 2012-2060, also forecast that Taiwan’s categorization as an “ageing society” in 2017 may be delayed by one or two years. A country is designated as an ageing society when 14 percent or more of its population is over 64. According data from the Ministry of Interior, the fertility rate was 0.89 in 2010, but rose to 1.07 last year.
Dental mission brings smiles
A group of Taiwanese dentists said yesterday they will head to Honduras as part of a week-long medical mission, providing free dental implant treatments. The dentists will be joined by dentists from the US, Spain, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and China in bringing smiles back to Honduran patients, said Leon Chen (陳俊龍) of the Dental Implant Institute, the organizer of the mission. It is unsure how many patients will benefit, since evaluations will be conducted after the team’s arrival on Wednesday, he said. Chen noted however that Rosa Elena de Lobo, the first lady of the Central American country, will be among the individuals receiving implants.