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Heavy rains force evacuations, road closures

2011/07/20 17:13:32

Taipei, July 20 (CNA) Steady downpours in central and southern Taiwan in recent days began to take their toll Wednesday, as residents of mountainous areas had to be evacuated and roads began to suffer damage.

The extreme rainfall, triggered by the combined effects of Typhoon Ma-on's outer periphery and seasonal winds, led to landslides that blocked seven sections of provincial highway No. 21, which runs from mountainous parts of Taichung and Chiayi to Kaohsiung.

The road will remain partly closed until Thursday, as continuing rainfall has stymied efforts to clear the affected sections, according to Wang Ling-yao, an official with the Directorate General of Highways.

According to the Highway Disaster Information System, a total of 15 road sections islandwide had reported damage as of 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Flooding triggered by the prolonged rainfall was also reported in several parts of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan and Nantou in central Taiwan, with some residents in both areas trapped in their homes.

In Taoyuan District in Kaohsiung, about 600 residents of the mountainous area, which was devastated by Typhoon Morakot in August 2009, were evacuated to safe area to ride out the storm.

According to Central Weather Bureau, the district was the hardest hit by the rain of any in Taiwan. More than 600 millimeters of rainfall had fallen at two collection points in the area from midnight Sunday to 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Over the same period, 482 mm had been recorded in Majia District in Pingtung County, and 458.5 mm had been recorded on Alishan in Chiayi County, also mountainous areas in the south.

Meanwhile, the Water Resources Agency issued a code red warning, the highest level, for 45 rivers.

Keeping its heavy rain warning active, the CWB said the weather is likely to remain unstable until Thursday, with more rain expected in areas south of Taichung.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)