TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Three campers were killed and one went missing when their tents were swept away by a river after a sluice gate accidentally opened at a dam upstream in Nantou County’s Ren-ai Township around 5 a.m. on Sunday (Sept. 13).
A total of six people, composed of two men surnamed Lai (賴) and Lu (盧) and their families, were camping out on the dry riverbed of the Li-chi Stream when the water unexpectedly arrived, according to CNA.
During the deadly incident, Lai was able to swim to shore. Lu’s wife was also spared because she was sleeping in the car.
The Nantou County Fire Bureau received calls around 5 a.m. informing them that two adults and two children had been carried away by the swiftly flowing river. A search and rescue team from the bureau found the bodies of Lai’s mother and seven-year-old son Sunday morning.
They then found the body of Lu’s 12-year-old daughter around 12:40 p.m. Currently, only Lu is unaccounted for; the search is ongoing.
Lu’s wife told the rescue team that as their tent was not big enough, she had to sleep in the car. She added that the jolt from the surging river suddenly woke her up, and she climbed onto the roof and found that the water had carried the tents away. She then made the call for help.
Taiwan Power Company (Taipower), which manages the dam, confirmed in a news release on Sunday that Water Gate No. 6 of the upstream Wujie Dam accidentally opened at 4:12 a.m. and again at 5:08 a.m. Taipower said that it will look into the cause and urged the public to observe the signs and stay out of the dry riverbed, as the upstream dam can release water at any time.