Taipei, July 16 (CNA) The New Taipei government decided Monday that it will tighten safety measures on Shalun Beach on Taiwan's northwestern coast, where five students recently drowned, and will fine those who ignore warnings against swimming or playing in the water.
Existing regulations bar swimming at the beach, but since it is difficult to differentiate between swimming and simply playing around, the government will no longer allow beachgoers to enter the water, said New Taipei Deputy Mayor Hou Yu-ih.
Beach guards who patrol the beach will first discourage visitors from going into the water, and those who disregard the warnings will be fined up to NT$25,000 (US$833), Hou said.
Meanwhile, authorities at Zheng De Junior High School, where the five drowned students were enrolled, called for donations to help the bereaved families.
The school has set up a bank account and asked for donations to help families who will have a hard time paying for funeral arrangements, the city's social welfare department said.
Eight students from the school in Tamsui, New Taipei, were swept into the sea last Friday while playing at the beach, which is one of 179 water areas listed by the New Taipei government as dangerous.
A total of 22 people have drowned at the beach since it was closed in 1999 because of strong undercurrents and dangerous whirlpools.
(By Wang Hong-kuo and Scully Hsiao)