2 drown, 1 missing as Soudelor arrives
An 8- year- old girl who was swept out to sea on a beach in Yilan County on Thursday was still missing as of Friday afternoon despite rescue attempts by emergency workers earlier in the day, the Central Emergency Operation Center (CEOC) said.
The Coast Guard unit based in Suao Township said its boats were sent out at 6 a.m. but recalled because of high winds and rough seas.
The girl’s twin sister and their mother died after the three of them and another 8-year-old girl who survived were taken from shallow waters on Suao Township’s Neipi beach by swells that may have been caused by the approaching Typhoon Soudelor, according to authorities.
The surviving girl managed to stay alive by clinging to the body of the twins’ mother before they were plucked from the water, rescue workers said.
Experts warned of the false sense of security that people can feel when playing in dangerous coastal areas in Eastern Taiwan.
Clear weather before a typhoon often causes people to underestimate the power of swells, or long unbroken waves, Chao Tsai-sheng, National Taitung University’s Department of Somatics and Sport Leisure Industry, was quoted as saying in Apple Daily, a local newspaper.
Typhoon Soudelor remains on course to run directly into Taiwan and was expected to make landfall in Eastern Taiwan early Saturday.
People Warned Against
President Ma Ying- jeou on Friday directed law enforcement authorities and the Coast Guard to keep people from wave watching along Taiwan’s shores as Typhoon Soudelor approaches.
If necessary, people will be forced to leave shore areas for their own safety, Ma said during a visit to the Central Emergency Operation Center.
The president said the typhoon has a solid structure and is expected to bring strong winds and heavy rains.
Areas in Central, Southern and Eastern Taiwan have begun precautionary evacuations in preparation for the storm, he said.
During a teleconference with local government chiefs, Ma paid special attention to the situation along Taiwan’s coasts and possible mudslides in mountainous areas.
Yilan County Magistrate Lin Tsung-hsien said most of the rainfall will probably be seen in mountainous areas, and he expected his county to begin evacuating people from areas vulnerable to disaster at 3 p.m.
Hualien County Magistrate Fu Kun-chi said it was hard to predict how much damage the typhoon will cause, but he hoped that the central government will provide aid to affected households to cover the costs of post-disaster reconstruction and agricultural losses.
Taitung County Magistrate Justin Huang said, meanwhile, that his county has decided to suspend its Hot Air Balloon Festival and will pay close attention to the county’s coastline.
(Above) Government officials seal off a section of the Suhua Highway in Yilan, yesterday. The blockage was completed by 6 p.m. Suhua Highway runs along the east coast, where landslides occur more often, especially after heavy rainfall. (Right) A worker removes an iron rooftop blown away by strong wind from electrical lines in New Taipei City, yesterday. Although Typhoon Soudelor did not make its landing until last night, its strong wind and accompanying showers began in the afternoon.