Ferocious Typhoon Aere swamps northern Taiwan, takes seven lives

TAICHUNG, Taiwan, The China Post Staff

The powerful winds and torrential rains brought by Typhoon Aere inflicted damage to cities and counties in northern Taiwan before it moved toward to the southeastern coast of China yesterday. Hsinchu sustained the severest devastation, with five people in the county confirmed dead plus two still missing. Rescue workers have lost all contact with more than 20 aboriginal people whose houses were washed away. There were two confirmed deaths in other areas. Taipei City The capital city suffered relatively more moderate damage than had been anticipated due to better hardware facilities and constant anti-disaster drills to deal with crises. Close to 1,000 trees fell and the city government mobilized 2,000 people, including 400 military policemen, to clear up those hampering traffic. Some vehicles were crushed by the trees and close to 30 landslides were reported in areas at the foot of the hills. Mayor Ma Ying-jeou said the traffic situation will be back to normal today as all 59 malfunctioning traffic lights will be fixed. Power supplies to half of the 22,866 households cut off by the typhoon damage were resumed by late afternoon. The injuries sustained by around 30 people were caused mainly by falling commercial signs but none was serious. Taipei County Taipei County with dealt with serious floods as swollen river water reached one-floor high in low-lying areas in Hsinchuang and water on the streets of Sanchung flooded basements. Twenty public schools were seriously flooded and another 50 reported suspension of both power and water. It would take several days to for recover and get ready for the new semester beginning on Aug. 30. Tamshui River water at one time reached close to two meters and found its way into many homes in Tamshui and some residents caught fish, crabs, turtles, and even snakes in their living rooms. Keelung City The streets were littered with felled trees and debris of shop signs while residents on Tungshin Street reported water once rose to 60 centimeters high. A mud and rock slide at a park buried or damaged 30 vehicles, including a giant container trailer. More than 24,200 households lost their electricity supply and one third of them were hit with blackouts by the evening. Hsinchu County Hsinchu suffered the worst casualties known so far as five people near a Jesuit church at Wufeng Hsiang were drowned in flash floods and two more were missing. Over 11,000 people in the county were evacuated to temporary shelters after floods and mudslides blocked their exterior links. Rescue workers were still searching for more than 20 aboriginal people “who have been out of contact” after more than 20 houses at Wufeng were devastated by mud and rock slides. Helicopters will be sent out today to continue the search. Electricity supply to more than 21,000 families in the county were cut off. Miaoli County The unusually high rainfall of over 1,700 milimeters brought waist-high floods in areas of Chunan and Toufen. Massive evacuations were also carried out. The Kuishan Bridge, the key artery connecting Miaoli City and the freeway network snapped and warped into a “V” shape after the sands and stones at the bridge buttresses were washed away. Transportation and Communications Minister Lin Ling-san and county chief Fu Hsueh-peng made an on-site inspection and decided to build a temporary bridge within one week. Taichung County More than 70 houses of Taichung County’s Songho village, which was ravaged by Typhoon Mindulle a few weeks ago, were damaged by mud and rock slides. Hundreds of aboriginal people were evacuated to schools and a Catholic church, but three were still unaccounted for. One Songho police precinct building was turned into a small leaning tower by floods. Transport connections with three other police precinct offices were cut off while staffers at three other precincts along the Tachia River were evacuated. Popular tourist hotels at Kukuan were flooded, as they were when the previous typhoon hit Taiwan.

Nantou County

As in adjacent Taichung County in central Taiwan, several hundred residents in Nantou County were evacuated from threatening floods. One elderly man was washed away. About 2,500 people in villages in the Jen-ai and Hsinyi area on dwindling food stocks are waiting for relief supplies. The county government plans to airdrop the goods after weather conditions improve today.