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Nantou County landslide claims two lives, woman barely escapes

Two men died and one woman were rushed to the hospital after being caught in a serious landslide yesterday morning caused by torrential rain in the mountainous areas of the central county of Nantou, according to police.

The woman, 69, and identified as Chan A-yuan, survived the landslide that erupted at around 10:00 a.m. yesterday at a village in the Lushan hot springs area of the Jenai Township, Nantou County. But her husband, Chen Yung-hsiang, 74, and a male worker hired by the couple, showed no vital signs when discovered.

Before the landslide occurred, the three people, all from neighboring Taichung, were taking shelter in a tapau set up in a pear-growing farm they rented in the mountainous village of Tunyuan, the police said.

Chen and the worker were buried alive soon after the landslide erupted, but his wife luckily had a narrow escape from the disaster, as she, then standing by the door, ran out and shouted for help immediately after the landslide came. She was greatly frightened and suffered from a thighbone fracture as she was rushed to the Puli branch of the Veterans General Hospital, according to the police.

The Nantou County Government and the military joined forces to evacuate 280 tourists and 67 residents from the Lushan hot spring hotels to safe locations.

Two Rescued in Lishan Landslide

Two staffers at the Chiayang forestry station were rescued after being hit by a landslide that occurred last night in the mountainous area of Lishan (Pear Mountain), Taichung City, but they remained in serious condition after being sent to the hospital.

A weather front caused heavy rain and flooding in southern and central Taiwan over the weekend, with the Central Weather Bureau forecasting more rain in Kaohsiung, Pingtung, Chaiyi and Nantou Counties in the week ahead.

The government has set up a disaster response center to assist affected people, the Cabinet said.

Meanwhile, about 2,000 people were trapped in mountainous areas of Kaohsiung after several roads and bridges were blocked due to the flooding, with the most affected areas being the Namasia and Taoyuan districts. Local authorities said most of the trapped have been relocated to shelters.

More than 300 troops have been dispatched to Kaohsiung's Jiasian and Liouguei districts to help evacuate local residents and assist with relief work.

The Kaohsiung City Government issued landslide alerts for the four districts earlier in the day, city officials said.

In Pingtung County, more than 1,000 residents in Sandimen and Laiyi townships were evacuated as a result of heavy flooding in the county, which has seen more than 1,000 millimeters of rainfall over the past three days.

The Directorate General of Highways has closed 12 highways in central and southern parts of Taiwan, including those passing through Sinyi Township in Nantou County and Wutai Township in Pingtung County, and has issued a warning against traveling via mountainous highways.

Highways traveling through several mountainous tourist spots and recreation areas have also been closed, including a section of Provincial Highway No. 18, which connects Chiayi City to Alishan. The Alishan National Scenic Area and the Aowanda National Forest Recreation Area in Nantou County have been closed due to the heavy rain, fallen rocks and damaged roads leading to the scenic areas.

Agriculture damages reported as of 4:00 p.m. yesterday were estimated at NT$28.2 million, according to statistics compiled by the Council of Agriculture, with Nantou County, Chiayi City and Pingtung County being the worst hit.

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The Lishan section of the Central Cross-Island Highway was blocked by massive landslides caused by heavy downpours on Sunday, which were yet to be cleared as of yesterday. (CNA)



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