Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-08-21 03:14 PM
Even though the storm was expected to head into China Thursday, heavy rain, flooding and landslides in its aftermath still posed a threat to most regions in Taiwan, forecasters said. Taipei, New Taipei and Keelung announced schools and offices would be open Thursday after one day of closure, though other regions were still to reach their decisions.
The government’s emergency center reported one injury, though three deaths were not officially listed as caused by the storm. A 33-year-old woman was injured when she lost control over her motorcycle in the Taipei City district of Neihu Tuesday evening. She rode into a hole in the road and fell, but was allowed to leave hospital Wednesday morning, reports said.
Three deaths which occurred before the storm arrived, were not officially listed as victims. A 73-year-old woman was swept away by a river in Hsinchu County Tuesday, while a 78-year-old man whose body was found in Taoyuan City disappeared Monday, officials said. A man who died after hitting a metal gate in New Taipei City was not counted as a storm victim either.
At 7 p.m. Wednesday, the eye was located 90 kilometers north of Taipei over the ocean, moving west at a speed of 25 km per hour. The storm packed sustained winds of 108 kilometers per hour with gusts reaching 137 kilometers per hour, but was not expected to grow into a typhoon.
Contrary to earlier speculation, the eye of the storm did not make landfall, allowing Trami to continue lashing the country with massive amounts of rain until at least noon today, with the focus of the bad weather moving from north to south, forecasters said.
While the storm was picking up speed, southern regions were only likely to feel the worst once it had veered west of Northern Taiwan, according to the weather bureau. Residents of low-lying parts of Yunlin County were warned to take precautions against flooding.
Land warnings in effect Wednesday for all of Taiwan with the exception of Tainan, Kaohsiung, Pingtung and Taitung could be ended as early as 5:30 a.m. Thursday, reports said.
The highest amount of rainfall was recorded near Chienshih and Wufeng in Hsinchu County, 544 mm between the beginning of Tuesday and 7 p.m. Wednesday. The situation forced the evacuation of local residents, while most of the 20 red landslide alerts also affected the same area.
A yellow alert warning of the possibility of landslides was issued for 682 locations, a significant number of which were situated in mountainous Nantou County. The Council of Agriculture asked local authorities to intervene and proceed with the necessary evacuations.
More than 1,300 people were forced to leave their homes behind. The list included at least 48 people who had to be removed from two indigenous villages in Nanchuang, Miaoli County, reports said. There were reports of more than 200 residents evacuated from one village near scenic Alishan, while a similar number were asked to leave an area in Tatung, Yilan County.
Landslides occurred in several parts of the country, including mountainous areas of Taipei City, as well as Linkou and Hsintien in New Taipei City.
Tamshui, at the mouth of the Tamshui River in New Taipei City, reported parts of its waterfront tourist area flooded with high tides still expected later in the day.
As often happens during storms and typhoons, Taiwan’s southeast coast was at the receiving end of warm air pushed away by the winds, with Tawu in Taitung County recording temperatures of 37 degrees Celsius.
The storm also affected domestic and international transportation, with several flights between Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Hong Kong, Macao, China, South Korea and Japan being cancelled Wednesday or postponed until Thursday. Most domestic flights were kept on the ground.
Train service along Taiwan’s north coast to Yilan County stopped at 1 p.m. Wednesday, but trains between Hualien and Taitung on the east coast still ran. The high-speed rail system between Taipei and Kaohsiung suspended direct services after 5 p.m., though trains which stopped at each station still operated.
Service on Taipei’s Mass Rapid Transit system was reduced, with trains running at intervals of eight to 15 minutes.
About 2,000 homes in the hilly Yangmingshan area of Taipei lost power during the morning, while in Miaoli, 16,000 homes were without tap water, reports said.
Local governments judged the weather situation to determine at what time schools and offices would close, but some of the decisions came under fire as inappropriate. Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin defended the closure covering all of Wednesday by saying the amount of rain reached the level necessary for such a decision.
New Taipei City Mayor Eric Liluan Chu said that even though urban areas might not have suffered much Wednesday morning, rain and wind were much stronger in mountainous parts of his city.
In other areas, leaders came under fire for forcing children to go to school until Wednesday noon, creating transportation problems for their parents. Yilan County closed schools for the whole day, but office workers were still required to show for up for a morning’s work. The county government said the arrangement was motivated by concern for children’s safety on the road to and from school.
President Ma Ying-jeou cut short the final leg of his tour of the Caribbean and South America to head straight for the government emergency center after his arrival Wednesday morning.