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4 bodies found in Taiwan freeway landslide

4 bodies found in Taiwan freeway landslide

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Rescue workers dug out four bodies from under the rubble at the site of the No.3 Freeway landslide near Keelung Wednesday.
In the early hours of the morning, about 60 hours after the disaster occurred, workers found the remains of a black Mercedes Benz carrying Li Shih-ying, a 32-year-old woman, and her friend Kuo Wen-han, 30. On Tuesday, searches had turned up a license plate and taillights of their car.
At 5:10 a.m., officials confirmed they had found the body of woman taxi driver Lin Huei-hsin, 55. A wheel of her cab turned up late Tuesday. About two hours later, searchers concluded they had also found the remains of Yeh Mao-chu, 55, in his car, officials said.
The force of the landslide had swept both vehicles off the road and smashed them into each other, officials said. Cable television footage showed cranes removing the mangled remains of the cars, which were only recognizable by their colors.
Relatives and colleagues accompanied Lin’s body which was relatively unscathed inside the completely wrecked car, her sister told reporters. Yeh’s wife read a letter to him in the presence of journalists.
Prosecutors examined the bodies and had them transferred to different mortuaries in Northern Taiwan.
Engineers determined that there were no more bodies in the rubble. A fifth person first suspected to have been buried, called the emergency services Wednesday morning to say he was safe and sound, police said. The National Communications Commission criticized media for the mix-up and for allegedly chaotic reporting about the rescue effort, including journalists following the relatives of the victims around.
The government said it would give NT$1 million per victim to the families. Transportation Vice Minister Yeh Kuang-shih visited the home of Li’s parents in Ilan County to express President Ma Ying-jeou’s condolences and hand over the money, reports said.
Ma told the government to assist victims’ relatives looking to file demands for state compensation amid a debate over whether the landslide was a natural or a manmade disaster.
As all victims had been found and transferred, the excavators could intensify their work to remove the rubble and might have cleared a northbound lane by Thursday evening, officials said. The full cleanup might be completed by May 5 at the earliest, according to reports. Until Wednesday noon, about 6,000 out of 20,000 cubic meters had been removed from the site, officials said. Trucks took part of the soil to Taipei County for use in a land reclamation project.
The closure of the No.3 Freeway between Hsichih and Keelung caused major traffic jams on the few alternative routes. In order to encourage more travelers not to use their cars, buses between Taipei and Keelung ran free of charge beginning Wednesday morning.
While the cause of the landslide had not been officially determined yet, officials and experts have named local geological conditions and possible problems with anchors supposed to hold up the hillsides.
The freeway cut through a dip slope, a geological system favoring landslides. Geologists mentioned the possibility that the rusting or faulty design of anchors and steel reinforcements on the hills might have contributed to the disaster.
The Taiwan Area National Expressway Engineering Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation said an investigation would have to conclude whether problems with the anchors were at fault or whether the landslide had been just too strong.
“We did not realize that we also had to review (the anchors) again,” said transportation official Lu Chieh-pin.
Research showed that dip slopes occurred at 32 similar sites along major roads across Taiwan, including at least six close to the site of Sunday’s landslide. More than 1,000 kilometers of major roads were still without monitoring equipment, reports said.
Lawmakers called for a speeding up of a government land act proposal now waiting for review at the Legislative Yuan. The law would lead to compulsory safety studies by certified experts of all development projects in sensitive areas, reports said.


Updated : 2021-05-11 02:45 GMT+08:00