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May 28, 2017

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Floods engulf south

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Torrential downpours brought by Typhoon Morakot in the past couple of days have smashed one-day precipitation records in many parts of Taiwan, Central Weather Bureau (CWB) officials said Sunday.

Premier Liu Chao-shiuan stayed overnight at Pingtung to direct rescue operations and evacuation of flood victims around the clock, as Morakot's death toll rose to four, with 19 injured and at least 8 other people reported missing.

Liu headed for Pingtung early yesterday morning aboard a bullet train to open a separate disaster control center to better carry on the rescue and evacuation of thousands of people still trapped in their waterlogged homes in the southern Taiwan county.

"Morakot has brought amazing record-setting volumes of rainfall to Taiwan, " said Chen Yi-liang, a CWB section chief in charge of weather forecast.

Several southern Taiwan counties recorded accumulated rainfall of more than 2000 mm Friday and Saturday, which caused the worst flooding in those areas in half a century, the official said.

On Saturday, the bureau's Weiliaoshan water station in the Sandimen mountains of Pingtung County recorded 1403mm of precipitation, a new high for a single day of rainfall in Taiwan, Chen said.

The volume broke the previous record set in 1997 when Typhoon Amber hit eastern Taiwan's Hualien County, bringing 1222.5 mm of rain to the region in a single day, according to CWB tallies.

Moreover, 13 other CWB water stations also recorded more than 1000 mm of rainfall Saturday, which was a record in itself for the number of areas receiving such huge volumes of precipitation in a single day.

"So far, nine out of the 10 highest single-day precipitation records at various CWB stations around Taiwan were from Typhoon Morakot," Chen said.

As of 11: 40 p.m. Saturday, Hsinan water station in Kaohsiung County had recorded 1287 mm of rainfall, which was the second highest level ever recorded, followed by Yuyoushan station in Kaohsiung County with 1267 mm.

The 1222.5 mm of rainfall recorded at Bulouwan station in Hualien County during Typhoon Amber in 1997 was pushed down to fourth place.

The fifth through 10th highest levels of precipitation ever recorded in Taiwan were 1181 mm at Hsinfa station in Kaohsiung County, 1174 mm at Matouhan station in Chiayi County, 1163 mm at Majia station in Pingtung County, 1153.5 mm at Fenchihu in Chiayi County, 1151.5 mm at Hsiakuanshan in Kaohsiung County, and 1147 mm at Shihpanlung in Chiayi County.

Morakot, which means emerald in Thai, did not land anywhere near Pingtung, but the record-breaking torrential rains it brought triggered flash floods engulfing Pingtung, Kaohsiung and a number of central Taiwan counties.

Highway bridges collapsed, killing at least three people and washing away 35 others in the rivers that overflowed their banks.

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