Heavy rain sweeps away 13 houses in Kaohsiung City

Torrential downpour sweeps away 13 houses in Kaohsiung City

An excavator clears away debris at the site of road destroyed by flood waters at Qinhe Tribe in Taoyuan District of Kaohsiung City. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)—The extreme torrential rains over the last few days resulted in accumulated rainfall of 1,400 millimeters (over four and half feet) in the mountainous Taoyuan District in Kaohsiung City, flash floods that happened in the aftermath have swept away at total of 13 houses.

One Qinhe tribal area resident claimed to have not shut his eyes in three days, since the recent torrential downpour felt as if buckets of rain were pouring from the sky onto the ground.

The large volume of rainfall and strong winds surpassed that of the deadly Typhoon Morakot that struck Taiwan in 2009, the same resident told UDN reporters.

Inundated rivers destroyed 11 Qinhe (勤和部落) houses in Taoyuan District, while floods claimed two houses in Liugui District of Kaohsiung City.

The 11 Qinhe houses destroyed by flood waters were all near the riverbanks of the Laonong River (荖濃溪), stated the Kaohsiung City Taoyuan District Office.

The houses swept away by flood waters were situated on the 92 kilometer mark of No. 20 Highway of the Southern Cross-Island Highway, said a Taoyuan District representative Hsieh Yi-Chen (謝宜真).

Most of the residents were evacuated a day before, but when some of them learned their houses were destroyed by the deluge, they were tempted to return to the tribal village to salvage whatever valuables that were left.

Police had to cordon off the area and prohibit residents from entering the area until weather conditions stabilized.

Taiwan’s Central Emergency Response Center had forcefully evacuated 103 residents to emergency shelters and permanent shelters in the Lele Area, said Taoyuan District chief Hsieh Ying-Hsiung (謝英雄).

Heavy rains also escalated the destruction of the Southern Cross-Island Highway, and town residents are worried that the remaining 70 to 80 houses will not survive the onslaught of rain, said Hsieh. Kaohsiung City Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), who arrived at the Qinhe tribal area on Sunday to survey the damages noted the heavy rains had loosened rocks and soil.

About 3,000 residents living in the Qinhe tribal area were evacuated by the Kaohsiung City government, but safety hazards remain in the area and further discussions are required between the Seventh River Management Office and Central Government on relocating villagers.

Premiere Lin Chuan (林全) will be traveling down south on Monday to inspect the areas pummeled by rain.

The Fuxing tribe in the same district has become completely isolated from the outside world because the roads leading into the tribe's land were completely destroyed; the area cannot be reached by smartphones or landline telephones.

Friends and family members of the 100 residents living in the tribal area have completely lost contact with them for more than 36 hours.

Kaohsiung City Taoyuan District Office said it will send a team up onto the mountain once the weather stabilizes.