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Mother dies after being rescued from trapped car

A woman died yesterday after being rescued from a car that was stranded in a flooded underpass in Taichung's Dajia (大甲) District on Thursday evening.

The woman, surnamed Chen (陳), was driving her two children when, due to low visibility and a sudden downpour of rain, she mistakenly drove into a flooded underpass. Firefighters rescued all people in the car, however, while her two children did not suffer any major injuries, the women lost consciousness as she was rushed to a hospital and died yesterday morning.

The fire department said that the situation occurred very suddenly and was extremely perilous, as the vehicle was submerged by muddy flood water that rendered visibility extremely low in the half submerged passenger compartment. Firefighters stated that, due to safety concerns, the options of deploying heavy cutting tools or towing were not considered. Firefighters stated that just as they were about to reach for the woman after rescuing her two children, the water level rose rapidly, submerging the entire vehicle. Firefighters added that they were unable to pull the woman out of the flooded car as her high heeled shoes had become entangled in the seatbelt.

Central Weather Bureau statistics indicate that Dajia District saw a downpour of about 9 mm throughout Thursday evening.

Taichung City Deputy Mayor Tsai Bing-kun (蔡炳坤) yesterday expressed his deep regrets over Chen's death. While the city's underpasses are equipped with warning lights, the measure may be inadequate in low visibility conditions under sudden and heavy rainfall. In light of the incident, Tsai stated that in the future personnel will be dispatched to warn motorists against entering hazard-prone underpasses following weather alerts. Tsai also outlined his proposal to conduct feasibility studies on the deployment of automated sensor-triggered gates programmed to block entry at flood-prone underpasses in the event of heavy rainfall to the fire department, the construction bureau and the Water Resources Agency.

Reports indicate that the sudden downpour in Taichung on Thursday evening also caused a number of other flood-related traffic accidents resulting in several non fatal injuries.

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