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Landslide cuts off Taiwan freeway, 2 to 4 cars feared buried

Rocks could take 2 weeks to clear

Landslide cuts off Taiwan freeway, 2 to 4 cars feared buried

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - A landslide buried a 300-meter stretch of the No.3 Freeway between Taipei and Keelung Sunday, leaving an unclear number of cars buried under the rocks.
At 2:33 p.m., the hill slid down at the 3.1-kilometer mark from the northern end, just north of the Chitu toll station, and took down an overpass, Keelung Mayor Chang Tung-jung told reporters.
Eyewitnesses approaching the place when the landslide started estimated the number of cars buried underneath between two and four. All cars were driving south, while no vehicles were believed to be traveling on the northbound lanes at the time of the landslide, reports said.
A woman showed up at the scene Sunday evening, telling reporters she was certain her husband was buried under the rubble.
The earth and rocks blocked the full 100-meter width of the freeway, burying all six lanes over a distance of 300 meters.
A hill ahead suddenly moved and crashed down on the road within five seconds, said entertainer Chen Mei-feng in an interview with cable station Formosa Television. She was traveling in a car approaching the scene of the landslide.
Several other eyewitnesses had to brake hard as they were nearing the incident at speeds of up to 100 kilometers an hour, reports said.
The military sent about 200 soldiers to help with relief work, while 36 excavators and 37 trucks arrived at the scene to work through the night, officials said.
Taipei City’s international rescue team, used to earthquake relief overseas, sent a team equipped with dogs and special equipment to search for the presence of survivors under the rubble.
Vice Premier Eric Liluan Chu visited the scene to inspect the relief operation. Because grave traffic problems were expected once the working week resumed Monday morning, the Ministry of Interior was designing alternative routes for the peak hour traffic, Chu told reporters.
The Sun Yat-sen or No.1 Freeway, the main artery between Taipei and Keelung, was expected to register major congestion after the weekend, reports said. Officials suggested motorists driving from Keelung to Taipei first take the No. 1 Freeway and then change to the No.3 Freeway at Hsichih, Taipei County.
Premier Wu Den-yih said it might take 20 days of 24-hour-a-day work to remove all the earth from the road at the present rate because of the large volume.
He traveled to the scene of the landslide from the Taipei district of Neihu, where he attended the debate between President Ma Ying-jeou and opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen about the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement. Ma visited the scene Sunday evening.
Experts were still guessing for reasons for the landslide, because there was no earthquake and no rain reported in the area at the time. Media described the incident as the biggest accident on a Taiwanese freeway in 30 years.

Updated : 2021-05-14 10:22 GMT+08:00