SECOND TIME’S A CHARM: Residents of the Hengchun Peninsula in the south breathed a sigh of relief as they were spared, but Orchid Island was hit the hardest in yearsBy Shelley Shan / Staff reporterThe ground in Yeyou Village on the island of Lanyu off Taiwan’s southeast coast is strewn with debris yesterday after Typhoon Tembin, now a tropical storm, ravaged the island and other parts of Taitung County. (Photo courtesy of Yen Tzu-yu)
The rain-battered south heaved a sigh of relief yesterday after Typhoon Tembin skirted past before dawn without making landfall, leaving little damage except on Orchid Island, where three people were injured.
TV footage showed wave damage on Orchid Island’s coastal highway.
Three people were injured when 8m waves ripped off the roofs of their homes.
Electricity, mobile phone networks and fixed telephone lines on the island were also cut off.
The island’s only supermarket, the credit department of the Taitung Area Farmers’ Association and the gas station were all destroyed by the waves.
The emergency operation center in Taitung was forced to direct rescue efforts through radio communication.
Some Orchid Island residents also expressed fear that food and clean water supplies would soon come under pressure.
Orchid Island Township Warden Chiang Duo-li (江多利) said this could be the worst damage ever caused by a typhoon to the island.
Statistics from the Central Emergency Operation Center showed that 556 households on Orchid Island had yet to be reconnected to water supplies as of 5pm yesterday.
Electricity was not available at about 9,400 households in Greater Kaohsiung, Pintung and Taitung.
About 3,000 people had also been evacuated in southern parts of the country.
Strong wind and torrential rain damaged houses in Checheng (車城), Pingtung County, and caused flooding in farmland.
Twenty-nine domestic flights and five international flights were either canceled or delayed, the Civil Aeronautics Administration said.
Meanwhile, a bus owned by Ho Hsin Bus Traffic Co (和欣客運) overturned and flipped down the embankment at the northbound section of the Sun Yat-Sen Freeway in Greater Tainan, injuring eight passengers.
The Greater Tainan Police Department said the bus was driving at 85kph and the driver was not drunk.
It suspected the accident was caused by gusts generated by the typhoon.
The Central Weather Bureau said Tembin had been downgraded from a typhoon to a tropical storm after traveling over the sea area near the nation’s southeast coast.
“I feel relieved now,” Hengchun (恆春) Mayor Yeh Ming-shun (葉明順) said after the typhoon failed to make landfall, sparing the area a second round of battering in less than a week.
As of 5:30pm, the eye of the typhoon was 160km east of Yilan County. It was moving northeast at 20kph.
Statistics from the bureau showed that Jingfong Township (金峰), Taitung County, had the highest accumulated rainfall in the past three days, reaching 326mm.
It was followed by Hongyeshan (紅葉山) and Jhihben (知本), with 287mm and 250mm respectively.
Bureau forecaster Chen Yi–liang (陳怡良) said most of Taiwan proper was out of the circumfluence of the storm by 5pm yesterday, except Yilan and New Taipei City (新北市).
The bureau lifted its land warning at 8:30pm yesterday, but a heavy rain or extremely heavy rain advisory remained in effect from last night through early this morning.
The bureau was also scheduled to lift the sea warning early this morning if the speed and path of the storm system remained unchanged.
Chances of showers are high in southern and southeastern Taiwan, as well as in central parts of the country.
Residents in northern and northeastern regions could see afternoon thundershowers.
(Additional reporting by AFP and CNA)