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Tropical Storm Bailu brings torrential rains to Taiwan

2019/08/24 20:51:26

Taipei, Aug. 24 (CNA) Tropical Storm Bailu has brought heavy rain to eastern and southern Taiwan, with Hualien County in the east recording more than 500 mm of rainfall on Saturday, according to the Central Weather Bureau (CWB).

Zhutian Village in Hualien's Fuli Township topped the country with 534 mm of rainfall accumulated from midnight Friday to 8 p.m. Saturday, meeting the criteria of extreme torrential rainfall, the most severe of Taiwan's 4-tiered rainfall intensity scale.

Two other monitoring stations in Fuli Township were showing rainfall of 493.5 mm and 484.5 mm as of 8 p.m. for the day.

According to the CWB, extreme torrential rainfall means accumulated rainfall of 500 mm or more in 24 hours.

It is followed by torrential rainfall, which means accumulated rainfall between 350mm and 500 mm in 24 hours, seen in many other parts of Hualien and Taitung counties in the east and a mountainous area in Pingtung County in the south, bureau data showed.

Two people in Taitung suffered minor injuries in the storm, though no details were immediately available, and widespread flooding was reported.

In Hualien, mudslides blocked roads in mountainous areas, leaving in one case 14 people trapped in a minivan.

Some 2,400 people in Hualien, Pingtung, Kaohsiung and Tainan had also been evacuated as a precaution.

On Provincial Highway 8, which cuts across central Taiwan through the Central Mountain range, mudslides forced road closures between Tianhsiang and Dayuling, and highway authorities said it will depend on the extent of the damage to decide if the section will be reopened Sunday.

Similar closures took place in Kaohsiung on sections of Provincial Highways 20, 27 and 29, which will be reopened Sunday at 8 a.m.

After making landfall in Pingtung at 1 p.m. Saturday, the eye of the storm left Taiwan and moved into the Taiwan Strait at 4:10 p.m., later than expected, forecasters said.

Bailu did not weaken as it passed over Taiwan because it crossed the southernmost part of the island, which is not sheltered by the north-south Central Mountain Range, making the damage more severe.

As of 6 p.m. Saturday, Bailu was located 80 kilometers west-northwest of Kaohsiung, moving in a west-northwesterly direction at 24 kilometers per hour toward southeastern China, CWB data showed.

With a radius of 150 km, it was packing maximum sustained winds (averaged over a 10-minute period) of 108 kph, with gusts (sustained for 1 minute) of up to 126 kph.

According to initial statistics from the Council of Agriculture, NT$1.97 million (US$63,000) in agricultural losses due to the storm had already been reported islandwide as of 5 p.m. Saturday.

Taitung County recorded the heaviest damage, accounting for 88 percent of the loss, the council said.

Crops that suffered the most damage included sugar apples, bananas, corn and sparrow grass, it said.

(By Yang Shu-min and Lee Hsin-Yin)
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