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Part of Taroko Gorge closed after tourist struck by rock dies

Part of Taroko Gorge closed after tourist struck by rock dies

Taipei, Jan. 30 (CNA) Taroko National Park Headquarters decided Saturday to close the east end of the Tunnel of Nine Turns at Taroko Gorge after a Chinese tourist was hit in the head by a falling rock there and later died.

The west end of the cliff tunnel will remain open to tourists, the headquarters said. The park administration urged tourists, however, to remain alert while exploring the gorge even though all possible measures have been taken to protect visitors from falling rocks.

The victim, identified as 28-year-old Shenyang resident Wang Chieh, was rushed to Tzu-Chi Buddhist General Hospital in Hualien City Friday after suffering the injury in the park, about 40 kilometers northwest of the city in the eastern county.

Wang was struck while heading toward her tour bus after walking the scenic gorge. She had been in critical condition in the hospital but died after several hours there from severe head and internal wounds.

Her family members arrived in Taiwan earlier Saturday to deal with the aftermath of her death, said Wayne Liu, the executive secretary of the Taipei-based Taiwan Strait Tourism Association.

The association will help Wang’s family collect the NT$2 million in compensation it is entitled to based on the accident insurance the park administration takes out on tourists’ behalf, Liu said.

The park administration noted that falling rocks have been a major threat to the safety of tourists in the park, one of the most popular destinations in Taiwan for foreign tourists.

Despite taken extensive precautions, such as providing safety helmets without charge, removing unstable rocks on the cliff, installing more warning signs and insuring tourists in the park, accidents still happened, which the park administration described as “regrettable.”

A preliminary probe found that Wang was hit by a rock that broke away from the mountain because of natural forces rather than being pushed off by monkeys as some have speculated.

(By Andrew Liu and Elizabeth Hsu)

Updated : 2021-06-21 13:00 GMT+08:00