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How Taiwan’s Government Failed: Typhoon Megi

26 Oct 2010

William Hsu, originally from Taiwan, is a senior studying biology and anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. He now lives in Hong Kong.

It’s another sad autumn in Taiwan – this time, Typhoon Megi came and left a trail of destruction, damaging the Suhua Highway and killing at least thirteen people.

The scenic Suhua Highway running along the northeastern coastline of Taiwan has been the major story thus far, with the heroics onboard a tour bus. The bus driver, 蔡智明 (Tsai Chi-ming), and tour guide, 田園 (Tian Yuan), saved three groups of mainland Chinese tourists on the highway, and were still in the bus when a massive landslide hit and buried them. Their brave act has earned the gratitude of those saved, as well as comprehensive coverage in local Taiwanese news.

Throughout the last couple days, various body parts have been recovered from the destroyed highway and out at sea. Just today, the bus driver’s hands and parts of his scalp have been recovered. May he finally be able to rest in peace, and may the tour guide and other missing persons be found. Also, bless all those who have been affected: the Philippines, Vietnam, southern China and Taiwan.

This brings me to question the preparedness of the Taiwanese government. Under no circumstances should the public not have known the magnitude and approach of the typhoon. There should have been landslide warnings in case of the severe rain typical of a storm, especially on the Suhua Highway which sits on a cliff face. Why had the tour bus been on the highway?No vehicles should have been present.

As an island in the region where typhoons normally pass, there should have been far more precautions taken. This is not the first time the government has failed in storm precautions, evacuation, and rescue – the most recent case being Typhoon Morakot just last year, which caused the worst flooding in southern Taiwan since 1959.

We are in a typhoon region, and living amidst one of the most unpredictable weather patterns in recent memory. When will the Taiwanese government stop being inept, and take care of its people?

[via Yahoo News (in Chinese) & CNN]

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