Severe rain hit southern and central Taiwan yesterday, causing floods, traffic disruptions and other damage. More than 400 millimeters of rain fell on Pingtung County within a 24-hour period, causing floods in several villages.
About 50 tour buses were stuck in the mountain area of Nantou County in central Taiwan due to landslides, trapping just over 1,000 people, according to local TV news reports. Seventy-nine villages in six counties around central and southern Taiwan are under red alert because of potential landslides.
Due to the presence of a southwestern front, heavy rain began to affect southern Taiwan yesterday morning, prompting the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) to issue severe rain warnings for Kaohsiung City and Pingtung County.
According to the CWB, severe rain is defined as precipitation of over 15 millimeters within an hour. By 12:20 p.m. yesterday, areas with rain accumulations of over 200 millimeters included Sandimen, Chunrih and Wutai of Pingtung County; Dashu, Ligang, Liuguei, Meinong and Jiaxian of Kaohsiung City and Guanshan and Zuozhen of Tainan City.
Floods and Road Damage
Floods, road damage and transportation disruptions were reported at many areas affected by the rain. In Pingtung County, floods of 20 to 30 centimeters in height were reported at Pingtung City as well as Yenpu, Jiuru and Chaozhou Townships.
According to reports, a landslide fell on the Central Taiwan Transverse Freeway, which was still closed to traffic on both lanes as of press time.
“The landslide measured 60 meters in length and 70 meters in height and has damaged the 79-kilometer section of the freeway, near Lishan,” said Hung Pan-yi, director of the Guguan division of Taiwan's highway bureau.
Police cordoned off the section of the freeway immediately. At the time, there were three farmers trying to salvage their vegetables, and they were asked to leave to avoid getting hurt, Hung said.
Evacuation Orders Issued
Meanwhile, both central and local governments have announced emergency response measures. Premier Sean Chen has asked governments of all affected areas to step up monitoring of the situation and said the central government was ready to provide whatever support is needed.
The Kaohsiung City Government was on full alert even as Mayor Chen Chu was out of the country. The city's water officials stood by in case there was a need to close water gates or activate pumps.
In Namaxia District, city officials evacuated patients with severe illnesses to safer areas as operators of Agongdian Reservoir were ordered to release extra water in the dam.
“In the past, severe rain would always be accompanied with floods and transportation disruptions, resulting in patients with severe illnesses and pregnant women not being able to get help,” said Chien Tsung-huan, chief secretary of the city's civil administration bureau. “This time we have tried to do our best to get these people to safer places so that they can still get help if needed.”
In Kaoshu Township, Pingtung County, firefighters evacuated six senior citizens with trouble walking from a retirement home in the midst of the floods.
According to the CWB, the southwestern front will continue to affect central and southern Taiwan today. On Tuesday, a rain front will arrive in northern Taiwan, by which time rain will be seen throughout the island, it said.