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Taiwan battles floods as torrential rain hits

Taiwan battles floods as torrential rain hits

Roads turned into rivers in northern Taiwan Friday as rain lashed the island, with rescuers helping residents evacuate as they struggled against the torrents.

Cars, homes and businesses were left underwater after 600 millimetres of rain fell in under 11 hours in some areas.

As water levels rose, a concrete road bridge was smashed in half by a swollen river in New Taipei City while thunderstorms forced Songshan airport in the capital Taipei to shut down for two hours.

In northern Keelung city, rescuers used rafts to help evacuate local residents and one young girl waiting at a bus stop was rescued after being washed away, Apple Daily reported.

Cars sank window-deep in the floods across the north and residents tried hopelessly to bail out their water-logged shops and houses.

Traffic came to a standstill as people abandoned their vehicles, with television footage showing passers-by desperately holding on to a floundering motorcyclist to stop her being swept off.

At a kindergarten in Taipei, 53 children had to be evacuated as flood water poured in, local media said.

One man in the capital told reporters how he had tried to shelter in a park pavilion, but became surrounded by water.

“I was just staying (in the pavilion) for the rain to stop — I didn’t think it would get so heavy,” he said.

There have been no reports of injuries or fatalities so far.

The rain started late Thursday and was easing up in Taipei by Friday afternoon, but the island’s Central Weather Bureau warned it would now move south towards the centre island.

Further heavy rain Friday and Saturday would particularly affect the west of Taiwan, which should take “serious precautions”, the bureau said.

A total of 177 local and international flights had been cancelled or postponed at Taipei’s two airports, aviation authorities said.

At the city’s main international airport in Taoyuan, a shopping area inside the terminal building flooded as rain poured through the roof.