Two killed in flash floods as storms batter Taiwan

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 June, 2017, 6:45pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 June, 2017, 11:04pm

At least two people have been killed and hundreds of flights disrupted by torrential rain that has battered Taiwan since early Friday morning.

Northern and central Taiwan were hardest hit, with the storms bringing traffic in many areas to a standstill and unleashing some of the worst floods on the island in years.

The rain would continue until Monday and all residents on the island should remain on high alert, weather authorities said.

The Central Emergency Operation Centre said a woman motorcyclist and a man out for a walk were killed after they were swept away by floods in New Taipei City. An elderly woman was missing after a flash flood hit her farm in Keelung, northern Taiwan, on Friday, and five people were injured by debris brought down by the storm.

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Ten counties in northern and central Taiwan recorded more than 600mm of rain by Saturday afternoon, officials said.

Aviation authorities said roughly 300 domestic and international flights, including 18 to and from Hong Kong, were cancelled or delayed by noon ­on Saturday.

In Taoyuan, parts of Terminal 2 at the island’s main international airport were again underwater after being flooded last year. The airport was under knee-deep water inside and outside the terminals, and the main access roads to the facility blocked last year when water surged in a nearby river.

This time a leaking roof led to flooding in the Terminal 2 shopping area.

“The rain was so heavy that it couldn’t be drained away in time,” Transport Minister Hochen Tan said.

An airport passenger said the soaked floors at the terminal were an embarrassment for the island.

“The airport is the gateway to our country,” the passenger said.

The floods were waist-deep in New Taipei City and Keelung, where a taxi driver and his passenger had to escape through the vehicle’s windows after it was swept off a road and into a river.

TVBS cable news network aired footage of the passenger swimming to safety and the taxi driver rescued by emergency workers. “I depend on the car for a living, and I still need to pay it off,” the driver said.

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Premier Lin Chuan went to Keelung on Saturday to assess conditions and relief efforts for flooded residents in the city.

However, one resident dismissed the premier’s effort as a “political show”.

In a Facebook post, the resident said he and his family had spent hours clearing mud and rubbish from their home alone after the floods hit on Friday.

In central Taiwan, homes in low-lying areas in six cities and counties were also drenched, according to media reports. Roads turned into rivers and furniture drifted in the waters.

A resident of Huwei told the SET television network that “the county government said there would be no more flood trouble after they spent more than NT$10 million (HK$2.6 million) to improve the water pumping station facilities”.

“But how come it’s still flooding?” he said.