Nine hikers arrested for starting fire on Hehuanshan

11/20/2022 10:04 PM
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Photo for illustrative purpose only. Source: Pixabay
Photo for illustrative purpose only. Source: Pixabay

Taipei, Nov. 20 (CNA) Nine hikers suspected of illegally starting a campfire and cutting branches of shrubs on Hehuanshan (Hehuan Mountain) in central Taiwan were arrested by police Saturday and brought in for questioning.

The hikers, including six foreign nationals, were released later Saturday after their statements were taken, a policeman from the Seventh Special Police Corps said Sunday, and the case has been handed over to the Nantou District Prosecutors Office for further investigation of possible violations of the Forestry Act.

Police acted after receiving a report Saturday evening that foreign hikers were camping in an area on the East Peak of Hehuanshan, a popular mountain resort bordering Nantou and Hualien counties, and had started a fire.

The police were also told that there were signs of branches of dwarf rhododendron shrubs, known as the rhodendron lapponicum or althernatively as the Lapland rosebay, having been cut near the campsite, which would be illegal, according to the policeman.

When police arrived at the site, they found nine hikers -- six foreign nationals and three Taiwanese -- camping there with a lit fire.

These campers explained to police that they went to the East Peak to watch the sunrise and picked branches for a fire because of the cold weather, but denied cutting shrub branches, according to the policeman.

After checking out the scene and questioning the campers, however, the police believed that the group had violated the Forestry Act by lighting a fire on the East Peak and referred the case to Nantou prosecutors to see if they want to take the case further.

(By Wu Che-hao and Evelyn Kao)

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