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Safety to be tightened at northeastern coastal scenic areas

2013/11/10 19:42:32

Taipei, Nov. 10 (CNA) New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu said Sunday that security at northeastern coastal areas will be tightened after eight people were killed and eight others injured by freak waves at Longdong Cape in the city's Gongliao District a day earlier.

Chu made the remarks after paying his respects to the dead at the New Taipei municipal funeral parlor and extending his condolences to bereaved family members.

The dead and injured were among a 26-member group from Shulin Community University that was visiting the Longdong Geopark Saturday to attend an outdoor learning course.

The group consisted of lecturers, students and members of their families. The deceased included six adults and two schoolchildren.

All eight bodies had been retrieved by 7 p.m. Sunday, but none of them could be resuscitated after being rushed to nearby hospitals, including Keelung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and the Keelung branch of the Tri-Service General Hospital, according to New Taipei Fire Bureau officials.

Chu said the New Taipei city government will collaborate with the Northeast Coast National Scenic Area Administration (NCNSAA) under the Tourism Bureau to increase safety precautions at the Longdong Geopark, known for its abundant and bizarre rock formations.

"We will cooperate with the central government closely to ensure safety in northern and northeastern coastal areas and prevent any repeat of this tragedy," Chu said.

According to the city government's plan, it will host a meeting every two months along with relevant central government units to review safety measures at northeastern coastal scenic areas, including Longdong, Guanyingshan and Yilan.

The New Taipei city government will also set up a special task force to intensify patrols at selected scenic areas on weekends and national holidays, Chu said, adding that an emergency reporting system will be established in the near future.

Chu said the city government will offer consolation money to the brereaved families of those killed.

According to the city's residents relief regulations, the family of a citizen killed in an accident can receive relief aid of up to NT$500,000 (US$16,955.76) depending on the family's income level.

NCNSAA Director Hsu Chen-lung said the agency will assist the bereaved families in acquiring the highest possible compensation amount of NT$5 million from insurance companies.

Hsu said freak waves often crash against the rocks in the Longdong area between September and March.

"We are studying the feasibility of banning access to the region during the peak season of rogue waves," Hsu said.

Noting that the site where the tragedy occurred is not an off-limits area, he said that "we would advise tourists to leave the area only when the waves reach an average of 6 meters high and the wind reaches grade-8."

Hsu also pointed out that the wind was not that strong at the time of the accident.

(By Sunrise Huang, Wang Chao-yu and Sofia Wu)