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CNN Today

Residents Hunker Down as Typhoon Bilis Batters Taiwan

Aired August 22, 2000 - 1:05 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Parts of Taiwan had not yet recovered from last year's devastating Earthquake when Bilis roared ashore.

Joining us now from Taipei is Jason Blatt of the Taiwanese network TVBS.

Jason, what can you tell us?

JASON BLATT, TVBS REPORTER: Well, right now, I'm standing in the National Fire Administration. This is where an emergency coordination center has been set up to handle all the coordination efforts related to the typhoon.

Now, according to the latest statistics that we have from a briefing that they just gave, the death toll here is still the same as it is in Puerto Rico. Only one person has died so far as a result of this typhoon. That was a worker who was working in a garbage dump in Taipei County in northern Taiwan. He was killed when a mud wall fell down on top of him, collapsed and fell down on top of him.

Now, according to the latest information that we have, here in Taiwan, transportation has been pretty much paralyzed by this typhoon. At airports around the island, airplanes are being secured on the tarmac and flights have been canceled since the early afternoon, and they're expected to remain canceled through tomorrow, at least till tomorrow afternoon. So if any viewers are planning to travel to Taiwan, they petter check with their travel agent to make sure the flight is still on.

Now, in another aspect of this disaster, the rainfall has been very heavy on all parts of the island, but especially in eastern Taiwan and in northeastern Taiwan. And as a result of all this rainfall, there have been severe power outages in many areas of the island, especially in southern Taiwan and eastern Taiwan where as many as 100,000 households are said to be without power.

Now, we talked about this rainfall, there's also a pending problem. It's that a lot of rivers and creeks around the island -- at least three so far -- are said to be ready -- the water level is already up to the banks and they're in danger of flooding as we speak right now.

Now, there's a dam in northern Taiwan called the Shuman Dam (ph), and that dam is said to be filled all the way within five centimeters of the top. So in about an hour's time, the authorities will have no choice: They're going to have to start letting water out of that damn, and that will inevitable cause more flash flooding in the area around the dam -- Marty.

SAVIDGE: Jason, I was just curious: Were the people of Taiwan prepared for this? Were they taking advance notice on the warnings?

BLATT: Well, it's been all over the newspapers, TV and radio. And this is an annual event in Taiwan. The typhoon season always comes.

Now, this typhoon is a lot stronger than the average typhoon that we experience. But going around Taipei, I could see that many people have put -- they've taped an X across their big glass-plate windows just in case the window breaks. Most of the really heavy preparations have been in central Taiwan where, as you just said, where we had a big earthquake last year, and a lot of public infrastructure that was severely damaged during that earthquake, especially roads, mountain roads, have still not been fully repaired, and they're in serious danger of landslides -- Marty.

SAVIDGE: Jason Blatt, thank you very much.

Jason is with the Taiwanese network TVBS, once again.

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