4th camper found dead after floodgate glitch in central Taiwan

Taipower worker arrested after sluice gate malfunction causes deadly flood

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Nantou Shuili Taguan Power Plant. (Taipower photo)

Nantou Shuili Taguan Power Plant. (Taipower photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The body of the last missing camper after a deadly flash flood on Sunday (Sept. 13) was found Monday morning (Sept.14), and an employee of state-run Taipower Co. is being investigated for negligent homicide (過失致死罪) after the power company stated that the flood was caused by a malfunction in the floodgate control system.

At 5 a.m. on Sunday, the Nantou County Fire Department received a report that four campers were washed away after a flash flood hit the riverbed where they had been camping in the Nantou County township of Ren'ai. The campers consisted of two families, led by a man surnamed Lai (賴) and a man surnamed Lu (盧), who had been camping on a dry section of Lishi Creek (栗栖溪).

As the floodwaters suddenly rushed into their camping site, Lai was able to swim to the riverbank, while Lu's wife was spared from the flood because she was sleeping in their car. However, Lai's mother and seven-year-old son were swept away, as were Lu and his 12-year old daughter.


(CNA photo)

By 12:40 p.m., firemen had located the bodies of Lai's mother and son and Lu's daughter, leaving only Lu still missing, and later suspended the search at nightfall. The fire department resumed search and rescue operations on Monday morning, and firefighters at 8:30 a.m. found Lu's remains downstream at the confluence of Lishi Creek and Kashe River (卡社溪), reported CNA.

In a news release posted on Sunday, Taipower announced that Gate 6 at the Nantou Shuili Taguan Power Plant (大觀電廠) had experienced an "abnormal situation," opening between 4:12 a.m. and 5:08 a.m. that morning. After discovering the abnormal water level, staff shut the flood gate, switched off the generators, and notified the authorities.

After questioning personnel who had been on duty when the incident occurred, the Nantou District Prosecutor's Office began investigating a technician surnamed Su (蘇) for negligent homicide and released him on NT$100,000 bail, reported ETtoday.


(CNA photo)

Based on a preliminary investigation, the Tourism Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said that signs posted near the riverbed clearly state that the spot where they pitched their tents is restricted and that the area is subject to sudden flooding due to discharges from the dam upstream. Taipower reminds the public not to camp in or along riverbeds downstream of hydroelectric dams and to carefully observe warnings in such areas.


(CNA photo)


(CNA photo)