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September 21, 2017

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Taroko highway listed among world's most dangerous roads

TAIPEI -- The highway that goes through Taroko Gorge in eastern Taiwan was recently named as one of the world's most dangerous roads by a United Kingdom-based website.

Noting that the word Taroko means "magnificent and splendid" in the aboriginal Truku language, the website said the road that runs through the gorge is deadly for drivers because of blind corners, narrow sections and huge mountain drops.

"There are pedestrians, scooters, cars and massive tour buses all vying for the tight space," the website said.

The Taroko Gorge Road, a section of Highway No. 8, runs through the eastern county of Hualien and into the mountains of central Taiwan.

On an interactive map, rated the Taroko Highway as "high risk" on its list of 22 dangerous roads around the world.

Heavy rains from typhoons often dislodge soil and rocks, making sections of the highway impassable, the website said.

"The area is prone to seismic activity which can have disastrous effect on the highway," it added, giving the Taroko Gorge Road a seven out of 10 rating in terms of "overall road fear factor."

Lin Wen-hsiung, an official at Taiwan's Directorate General of Highways, said Wednesday that the government has allocated NT$1 billion (US$32.94 million) this year to improve the safety of the Taroko highway.

Work has been done to stabilize the embankment at more than 20 points along the road over the past two years, he added.

DrivingExperiences said its interactive map was created based on the World Health Organization's "Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013," as well as media reports, blogs and other online sources.

The most dangerous highway, according to the website, is the North Yungas road in Bolivia, which received a score of 10, in light of the hundreds of deaths "caused by vehicles plunging off the road while trying risky overtaking maneuvers" every year.

Besides the Taroko Gorge Road, other dangerous roads in Asia listed were China's Guoliang Tunnel Road, India's Zoji Pass, Pakistan's Nanga Parbat Pass and the Philippines' Commonwealth Avenue.

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