Vigilance urged against rockslides

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Government officials yesterday urged people to maintain a high alert against possible landslides, mudslides and rock falls that could be triggered by the past days of heavy rain.

The Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said yesterday that the heavy rains dumped across Taiwan by Tropical Storm Kong-Rey will generally let up beginning today. But the bureau cautioned that people, especially those living or working in mountainous areas, should stay on alert against possible slides that can be set off by soil loosened by torrential downpours.

Landslides and rock slides damaged more roads and bridges, especially those in the southwestern county of Chiayi, and shut down services on some railway lines while more people were evacuated from mountain areas as a safety precaution.

Government agencies continued to asses the rising costs to the agriculture and transport sectors.

Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan renewed calls for the adoption of new strategies and techniques to cope with the floods that often inflict heavier damage than typhoons. The Directorate General of Highways had closed at least six roads, including three provincial highways, saying three were scheduled to reopen later in the day and the others this week.

In New Taipei’s Ruifang Township, two people were injured when their car was hit by a rockfall at the 82-km mark on Provincial Highway No. 2. They were both hospitalized.

In Taipei, there were 28 reports of damage caused by rain, which was forecast to remain heavy to torrential.

Taipei’s Emergency Operations Center said all 28 reports were handled by city authorities.

Southern Taiwan Taiwan has been drenched by heavy rain resulting from a convergence of southwesterly winds and clouds on the periphery of Tropical Storm Kong-Rey, which has caused widespread flooding and other damage, since Aug. 28,

Southern parts of Taiwan sustained particularly heavy blows.

One major incident was the derailment of a train that struck rocks and mud deposited by a landslide at the entrance to a tunnel on the South-Link Rail line Saturday, leaving 17 people injured.

President Ma Ying-jeou personally visited the train accident site in Pingtung County yesterday morning. Premier Jiang Yi-huah led officials to inspect an area in northern Keelung City where a house had collapsed the previous day in a mudslide.

In addition to the South-Link Rail line, service on the Pingxi railway line was also suspended from 11 a.m. yesterday due to rocks on the tracks, the state-run Taiwan Railway Administration said.

Meanwhile, the popular Alishan forest railway suspended service yesterday after rain battered the mountainous areas in Alishan in Chiayi County.

The weather bureau said the rain is expected to ease from today, forecasting intermittent rain Sept. 2-4 in Northern and Eastern Taiwan and the Hengchun Peninsula in the south.

According to the bureau, southern, southeastern and eastern parts of Taiwan could expect intermittent rain Sept. 5-7.

Forecasters have been keeping close watch on a new tropical depression, which was located around 170 kilometers east of Taipei at noon yesterday and moving northeast at 10 km per hour.

Another system in the area, Tropical Storm Yutu, is unlikely to threaten Taiwan, forecasters said. Yutu was located some 5,000 km east of Taipei and was moving east-northeast at 7 kph.