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Roads, bridges, railway lines closed as heavy rain continues

2013/09/01 19:39:56

Rueifang Township, New Taipei. (Photo courtesy of the city's fire department)

Taipei, Sept. 1 (CNA) Roads, bridges and railway lines in several areas throughout Taiwan have been closed as heavy rain continued across the country Sunday, causing widespread flooding and damage.

As of 2:30 p.m. Sunday, northern Taiwan remained under a torrential rain alert, while a heavy rain warning was maintained for Pingtung and Kaohsiung in the south and Hualien and Taitung in the east of the country, according to the Central Weather Bureau.

It cautioned people to be on the alert against landslides, mudslides and rock falls in mountainous areas, saying continuous rain across Taiwan over the past few days may have made the soil more vulnerable to slides.

As a result, some roads and bridges, especially in the southern county of Chiayi, and railway lines have been shut down and people evacuated from mountain areas as a safety precaution.

As of 11 a.m. Sunday, the Directorate General of Highways had closed six roads, including three provincial highways, saying three were scheduled to reopen later in the day and the others next week.

In Rueifang Township in New Taipei, two people were injured when their car was hit by a rock fall at the 82 km mark on the Provincial Highway No. 2. They were both hospitalized.

Meanwhile, in Taipei there were 28 reports of damage Sunday caused by the rain, which was forecast to remain heavy to torrential as a result of convective clouds and a seasonal front passing over Taiwan.

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

Since Aug. 28, 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, particularly in southern Taiwan.

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

President Ma Ying-jeou visited the train accident site in Pingtung County Sunday morning, while Premier Jiang Yi-huah inspected an area in Keelung where a house had collapsed the previous day in a mudslide.

In addition to the South-Link line, service on the Pingxi railway line was also suspended on Sunday from 11 a.m. due to rocks falling on the tracks, the TRA said.

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

The rain is expected to ease from Monday, the weather bureau said, forecasting intermittent rain from Sept. 2-4 in northern and eastern Taiwan and the Hengchun Peninsula in the south. It said southern, southeastern and eastern Taiwan could expect intermittent rain from Sept. 5-7.

Meanwhile, the weather bureau is keeping a close eye on a new tropical depression, which was located around 170 kilometers east of Taipei at noon Sunday and moving northeast at a speed of 10 km per hour.

Another system in the area, Tropical Storm Yutu, is unlikely to threaten Taiwan, forecasters said. At noon Sunday, Yutu was located some 5,300 km east of Taipei and moving east northeast at a speed of 7 kph, according to the weather bureau.

(By Christie Chen, Lin Sheng-hsu, Liu Li-jung, Sunrise Huang and Tai