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Rain-related death toll remains at six as unstable weather continues

TAIPEI -- Days of heavy rain around Taiwan created by a frontal system converging with the southwest monsoon have so far claimed six lives, injured 11 and left two people missing, the Central Emergency Operations Center said yesterday.

Casualties caused by landslides or flooding were recorded in Nantou County and Taichung in central Taiwan, as well as in New Taipei and Taoyuan County in the north, the center said in a press release.

Some 7,120 people have been evacuated from disaster zones or areas at risk of mudslides around the country, the press release said.

Despite the rain having abated somewhat, heavy downpours were still forecast for some areas of central and southern Taiwan, with generally unstable weather expected to continue island-wide, according to the Central Weather Bureau.

The public still needs to pay attention to the potential danger from rain-triggered disasters such as road collapses and falling rocks, the center noted.

Meanwhile, 285 riverside locations in the cities of Kaohsiung, Tainan and Taichung, as well as in the counties of Nantou, Chiayi and Pingtung remained on red alert for mudslides, while yellow alerts were issued by the Council of Agriculture (COA) earlier in the day for 398 mudslide-prone spots nationwide.

Agricultural losses throughout Taiwan had reached NT$317.1 million (US$10.57 million) since the rain began June 9, the council said that same day.

Damage to produce topped the list of losses, totaling NT$181.6 million, with rice, leafy vegetables and seasonal fruit the worst-hit.

Among the most affected areas were Chiayi County in southern Taiwan, which suffered losses estimated at NT$93.9 million, Taoyuan County in northern Taiwan, Nantou County in central Taiwan, Pingtung County and Kaohsiung in the south.

Premier Sean Chen instructed the COA to keep track of agricultural produce prices and step up inventory distribution to avoid a sudden rise in prices prior to the Dragon Boat Festival, one of the most important holidays on the Chinese calendar.

Demand for produce and the ingredients required for making zongzi— a glutinous rice dumpling traditionally eaten during the festival— are predicted to increase as the festival, which falls on June 23 this year, approaches.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs said earlier in the day that prices of most daily necessities had remained stable over the past week. Soybeans, wheat and sugar prices over the same period were also steady thanks to various factors such as sufficient supplies and weaker global demand.

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