Torrential rain damages runway at Taiwan's main airport

Railway lines and mountain roads hit by landslides

Fallen trees interrupted traffic on the Neiwan branch line. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Torrential rain played havoc with traffic around the country Saturday, closing down one runway at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport for hours and interrupting roads and rail tracks in other regions.

Landslide alerts were out for many mountainous regions, with the plum rain not expected to leave until Wednesday.

Taiwan’s main international airport shut down its southern runway for more than five hours during the afternoon while repair work was executed. Around 2 p.m., two damaged areas were found about 100 cm by 80 cm and 60 cm by 40 cm in size, officials said.

The airport sent a team to fix the problem, a task which was completed around 6 p.m. The situation was deemed safe enough to reopen the runway for use at 7:30 pm., but takeoffs and landings had continued normally on the other runway, so traffic was not really disrupted, officials said.

Due to landslides, trees fell on a railway branch line in Neiwan, Hsinchu County, in two different locations, interrupting train traffic in the area. The problem took about one hour to solve, so only 40 passengers were affected, the Taiwan Railways Administration said.

A 3.7-magnitude earthquake which struck Hualien County at 2:20 p.m. Saturday added to the problems, with falling rocks and landslides reported from several roads. Cross-island roads were seen as especially vulnerable due to the mountainous terrain they pass through, with sharp cliffs hanging over vehicles. A segment of the Central Cross-Island Highway near Tienhsiang was closed off at 6:30 p.m. as a precautionary measure.

A road in Nanhua, Tainan City, was closed off to traffic for a while during the morning as repair crews fought to make up for a chunk of the road that had slid into a ravine, leading to a dangerous situation, especially with the low visibility in the area.

The Alishan railway line to the popular mountain destination of Alishan in Chiayi County would not operate on Sunday due to the weather, officials said.

Meanwhile, in the old town of Lukang in Changhua County, the worst flooding in a decade was reported. The city is popular with tourists because of its ancient temples, grand houses and typical food.