Mountaineers in a climbing group that reached the summit of the nation’s highest peak on Monday were struck by lightning while descending with the assistance of iron chains.
The climbing group, comprised of 13 mountaineers from Taipei City and Changhua County, checked into the Yuanfong Cabin at an altitude of 3,640m in the Yushan National Park in Nantou County’s Shueili Township (水里) on Sunday.
They set out to climb to the summit of Yushan (玉山) at about 3am on Monday, before five members of the group returned to the Paiyun Lodge at an elevation of 3,402m above sea level to rest, because they were experiencing discomfort.
After the rest of the team reached the summit at approximately 5:30am, they attempted to come down the mountain with the assistance of iron chains.
However, the group were struck by lightning when they came close to a wind gap, with three of them — porter Ho Cheng-tao (何正道), Huang Ching-wen (黃敬雯) and Lin Yun-jung (林昀融) — passing out at the scene, said a climber surnamed Liu (劉), who sustained minor burns on his hands in the incident.
Ho and Huang regained consciousness shortly afterwards, but Lin, who was wearing a digital camera that reportedly caused the lightning to flow directly through her body, did not come to.
The remaining climbers asked their team members at the Paiyun Lodge for help using wireless communication equipment. The team members immediately called guards stationed at the site.
Although the guards attempted to dispatch a helicopter to airlift the victims, the plan was scrapped because of inclement weather in the area.
Instead, five Yushan National Park Headquarters mountain patrollers went to the rescue of the injured mountaineers by foot, spending four-and-a-half hours taking turns to carry them off the mountain.
A nurse who came across the patrollers while climbing the mountain also joined the rescue effort.
As the first hospital to which the victims were sent lacked a burns center, they were rushed to the Changhua Christian Hospital for treatment.
Despite suffering from temporary paralysis and second-degree burns, Lin’s injuries were not life-threatening, doctors said, adding that the other injured climbers were also in a stable state.
In response to the accident, a Yushan National Park Headquarters official said that while the agency had considered replacing the iron chains with plastic ropes, the idea was abandoned over concerns that frost caused by low temperatures on the mountain could reduce friction between the ropes and hands, and because lightning strikes were rare.
The nation has seen only a few mountaineers struck by lightning, including an incident in April last year in which two members of a climbing team from New Taipei City (新北市) sustained multiple burn injuries after being hit by lightning.
Another incident was fatal, when a female mountain guide, named Lin Tsui-min (林翠敏), was killed by lightning in May 2005 while climbing up the North Peak of Snow Mountain (雪山).
DOING ENOUGH? The HPA budgets NT$1.3 billion to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but has no separate budget to fight teen drinking, a doctor said The government should step up alcohol education and prevention efforts, and allocate more of the budget to it, doctors said on Friday, citing the high consumption of alcohol among Taiwanese adolescents. One out of four 12-to-17-year-olds has consumed alcohol, said Yen Tsung-hai (顏宗海), director of Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital’s Department of Clinical Toxicology. The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) budgets NT$1.3 billion (US$43.9 million) annually to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but it has not allocated a separate budget for preventing teenage drinking or excessive alcohol use, Yen said. “There is no so-called ‘safe drinking level’ for minors,” because any amount consumed
The Fancy Frontier manga and anime expo held in Taipei over the weekend has sparked controversy, after a participant allegedly contravened the Act on Offenses Against Sexual Morality (妨害風化罪) by publicly exposing her private parts during a photo shoot. The two-day event opened at the Expo Dome at the Taipei Expo Park on Saturday, attracting numerous comic and anime creators, cosplayers, photographers and fans. Allegedly, a female cosplayer who was not wearing any underwear lifted up her skirt and revealed her private parts at an outdoor photography area near the venue. Event organizers said yesterday that to prevent indecent exposure, they have since
YOUNGEST PATIENT: Cases of botulism have been only sporadically reported over the past few years, with two in 2015, six in 2016 and none in the past three years The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday reported the nation’s first case of infant botulism this year, a four-month-old boy in northern Taiwan, as well as five new cases of Japanese encephalitis confirmed last week. The boy was introduced to homemade solid food in the middle of last month, but began to experience constipation and loss of appetite on June 23, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Deputy Director Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉) said, adding that he was taken to the hospital when he developed a fever and shortness of breath on June 25. In the hospital, the boy also experienced a rapid heartbeat, limb
The National Taiwan Museum’s Railway Department Park in Taipei is to open to the public today. The park in Datong District (大同) near the North Gate (北門, Beimen) is one of the museum’s four branches. During the Japanese colonial era, the site housed the railway department of the Office of the Governor-General of Taiwan’s Bureau of Transportation. After World War II, it served as the headquarters for the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) for several decades. In 2007, it was listed as a national monument under the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (文化資產保存法). At an opening ceremony yesterday, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung