Typhoon Matmo leaves 17 injured in Taiwan

Floods and landslides hamper traffic

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Typhoon Matmo moved out into the Taiwan Straits early Wednesday morning, leaving 17 injured but no deaths according to official tallies, while train service remained difficult on the east coast.
The typhoon made landfall in Changpin, Taitung County, much farther to the south than predicted earlier, at ten past midnight and left from Changhua County about four hours later. The last land warnings for Taiwan’s main island were ended at 5:30 p.m.
The Central Emergency Operation Center listed nine people injured, while discounting media reports of two deaths and one person missing. The deaths were not directly related to the typhoon and should therefore be treated as accidents, according to the center.
A 54-year-old woman in Sanchung, New Taipei City, went to the roof of her six-floor apartment to burn incense at 3 a.m. but found herself locked in, the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported. As she tried to get back home through a window, she lost her footing and fell to the ground.
A 60-year-old pig farmer in New Taipei City was blown off balance during an inspection of his animals and drowned, reports said. A man who was swept away from a beach in Hualien County was listed as a missing person by media reports.
Most of the injured were drivers or passengers of vehicles hit by falling trees, reports said. Taipei City alone recorded more than 500 fallen trees.
One tree which collapsed during the storm received special attention from the media. It had turned into a tourist attraction after featuring in an airline commercial starring Taiwanese-Japanese star Takeshi Kaneshiro.
Local officials in Chihshang, Taitung County, said they would trim the leaves by one third and pull the tree back up within two days to its original place by the side of a country road. Taitung County Magistrate Huang Chien-ting inspected the site Wednesday afternoon and lent his verbal support to the rescue effort.
A helicopter rescued two Chinese and two Indonesian crew members from a small Belize-registered oil tanker stuck near Kaohsiung, reports said.
According to official statistics, 5,388 people were evacuated from homes threatened by flooding or landslides, while by Wednesday afternoon, about 65,000 of the 460,000 households who had lost electricity were still waiting for power to be restored.
The military said that a total of 1,100 soldiers had helped with the evacuation of 1,600 civilians.
The traffic situation was slowly returning to normal as the typhoon speeded up away from Taiwan during Wednesday afternoon. An estimated 30 domestic flights had been canceled during the storm, while 41 international flights had suffered the same fate, most of them flying to or from China. A further 61 international flights were delayed, reports said.
The Taiwan Railway Administration was criticized for allegedly not informing its passengers soon enough about the cancellation of rail service on the east coast. Train service on the west coast resumed at noon Wednesday, but because of damage in several locations, the TRA missed its deadline of 6 p.m. for the resumption of journeys between Hualien and Taitung. Midnight Wednesday evening was set as the new target to restore services.
Landslides had cut off numerous roads in mountainous areas, with crews struggling to repair them by the end of the day. The main road between Su’ao in Yilan County and the city of Hualien, often hit by landslides and falling rocks, was likely to remain partially closed off until Thursday evening, reports said.
Floods were reported in several towns, including Yuli in Hualien County and Nan’ao in Yilan County. In the Kaohsiung City district of Taoyuan, 580 residents were cut off from the outside world.
Farmers reported extensive damage to crops, including pomeloes and bananas, reports said. Early estimates mentioned NT$31 million (US$1 million) as the total cost of the losses for the agricultural sector.
Even though Taiwan gradually escaped from Matmo’s sphere of influence, the Central Weather Bureau warned against continued heavy torrential rain in many parts of the country.
Land warnings ended for the eastern and southern parts of Taiwan at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, as did sea warnings for areas east and south. The rest of the country had to wait until 5:30 p.m. but sea warnings remained into effect in the Taiwan Straits. At the time, the center of the typhoon had already made landfall in China’s Fujian Province, about 100 kilometers from Taiwan’s offshore island of Matsu.