TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Salvadoran woman was fatally struck by a concrete mixer while riding her scooter in Tainan Friday (May 7), and some are questioning the lack of local media until three days after the accident.
At around 6 p.m. Friday evening, 26-year-old Laura Beatriz Garcia Cordova, who had received her bachelor's and MBA at Ming Chuan University, was driving in the right lane on Fuqing Road in Tainan's Yongkang District when a concrete mixer in the left lane suddenly swerved to the right. In video footage of the incident, the driver appears to signal at the same moment he turns right, but before passing Garcia, he encroached on her lane and smashed into her.
Garcia was knocked off her scooter, and the rear tires of the massive truck rolled over her, continuing forward until the driver appears to have finally hit the brakes. She suffered severe head trauma and after being rushed to a nearby hospital was pronounced dead by doctors.
However, the accident was not reported by Taiwanese news outlets, and police did not release any footage of the incident, prompting netizens on the popular online forum PTT to speculate that the truck's company had paid off police to prevent media coverage. The Yongkang Precinct of the Tainan Police Department on Monday (May 10) denied there was a coverup and said that because the case is under an investigation, it's not open to the public and no one outside Garcia's family is allowed to view or copy relevant video evidence.
The Yongkang Precinct said that the case is being investigated in accordance with regulations and that footage has been obtained to clarify the circumstances of the incident. Since no relatives of the deceased are in Taiwan, police informed her boyfriend, who is Taiwanese, while the company that employed her sent staff to assist in the investigation.
In the case of media reports, the precinct claimed that it can only release a certain amount of information and cannot disclose personal information or speculate on the process or motives. It added that relevant evidence for the entire case will be preserved and submitted to the Tainan District Prosecutor's Office.
What police have revealed thus far is that the driver of the truck is a 41-year-old man surnamed Cheng (鄭). A breathalyzer test administered at the scene of the accident resulted in a blood-alcohol level of zero.
Police stated that since Taiwan and El Salvador do not have diplomatic relations, they have contacted the family of the deceased through the Salvadoran ambassador to South Korea.
Her family members hope that her remains can be transported back to her country intact. Police stated that once they have authorization, they will try their best to assist the family with the process of repatriating her remains.
Friends of Garcia in Taiwan have created an official GoGetFunding page to raise funds to cover the repatriation expenses and enable her family to hold a Christian burial for her.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A video of a mysterious man flying in the sky over Taichung has attracted considerable attention after it surfaced on the video-sharing platform TikTok on Monday (May 10).
In the 15-second video, shared by TikTok user "six_lin666" with the hashtags "ironman" and "Taiwan," a man can be seen flying above buildings and billboards in Taichung's Beitun District. The individual appears to be wearing a jetpack as he drifts slowly from left to right.
Within hours, the video had garnered 633,000 views, 1,330 likes, and 151 comments. Netizens were intrigued by the rare sight, and some were curious about what the flying man was up to.
Speaking to the press on Tuesday, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said it is aware of the video and that it has launched an investigation into the incident. Since jetpacks, despite their popularity in some Western countries, are highly restricted in Taiwan, the man in the video could face legal consequences for violating the Civil Aviation Act, it explained.
The agency pointed out that an individual must receive government approval to import a jetpack and that a pilot license is required to operate one. It cautioned that flying a jetpack in Taiwan could result in a prison sentence of up to five years or a NT$1 million (US$35,917) fine.
Last year, a similar incident happened near Los Angeles International Airport when a crew member of Taiwan's China Airlines saw an individual flying in a jetpack at an altitude of 1,828 meters. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said at the time that operating a jetpack near a commercial airline or in controlled airspace is not only dangerous but illegal.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A recent coronavirus outbreak involving crew members of China Airlines (CAL) has prompted more people in Taiwan to get vaccinated against the disease, soothing previous concerns about public lack of interest in vaccination.
The local outbreak, which began when a CAL cargo pilot tested positive for COVID-19 on April 21 after flying to Australia, had expanded to 35 individuals as of Monday afternoon (May 10). These included 13 pilots and one flight attendant, six employees and one contractor at the Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport hotel, and 14 family members.
The outbreak has sparked concerns of widespread transmission since many of the confirmed cases had visited restaurants, grocery stores, and other public spaces prior to their diagnosis. As a result, more Taiwanese have registered to get a jab.
According to the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control, 92,049 adults have received at least one dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine since the rollout began on March 22. Among these, 24,760 took advantage of the self-paid program that opened April 21.
On May 6, Taiwan saw 6,461 people receive a shot, a single-day high for the country that is four times the average rates in March and April. The government is hoping this elevated rate will continue in order to keep the two shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine it has secured, which are set to expire in less than a month, from going to waste.
TAIPEI (Taiwan) — A rice farmer in eastern Taiwan hired water trucks on Sunday (May 9) to irrigate his drought-stricken fields in a farming village at the foot of the Coast Mountains.
As rice is entering its booting stage in Taitung County, the crop needs plenty of water. However, the drought in Taiwan has not improved.
On Sunday, a farmer in Wang’an Village, Chihshang Township, surnamed Liu (劉), hired trucks to replenish his paddies with water. He said the irrigation for the local rice fields is not nearly sufficient and that he could not bear to see his crops destroyed by drought.
Liu said there are two local wells where water is pumped to irrigate farms, but everybody is fighting for water. As his paddies are located downstream, none is left for them.
He said he was left with no choice but to resort to hiring the trucks, which significantly shrink his profits.
Lin Kou-chin (林國欽), a biological engineer in Chihshang, said that due to drought, many paddies have been forced to go into furrow in western Taiwan, which has in turn dramatically driven up the price of rice and caused farmers in Chihshang to begin growing it.
Lin said no figures were available on how many acres of land have begun growing rice, but many woodlands and unirrigated farmlands have been converted.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A massive blaze broke out at a steel plant in Kaohsiung Sunday evening (May 9), injuring one and halting operations at the facility.
The Kaohsiung City Fire Department at 9:07 a.m. received a report that a fire had broken out at the Yieh United Steel Corp. (燁聯鋼鐵) plant in Gangshan District. It immediately dispatched 38 vehicles and 81 firefighters from a dozen fire stations to the scene.
When firefighters arrived at the factory, they found that a 70,000-liter storage tank full of grinding oil had burst into flames. Firefighters used foam to contain the blaze in the tank while spraying water in the surrounding area to prevent the flames from spreading.
They managed to bring the inferno under control by 11:20 p.m. and fully extinguished it at 11:39 p.m. A total of 400 square meters had been damaged.
During the fire, a 49-year-old male employee suffered smoke inhalation and burns to his hands, and he was rushed to a nearby hospital. Doctors said his injures were not life-threatening and that he is in stable condition.
Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), Deputy Mayor Lin Chin-jung (林欽榮), and Fire Chief Li Ching-hsiu (李清秀) all arrived on the scene to oversee the operations.
Based on a preliminary investigation, the fire was the result of "careless operation." Chen has ordered the plant to suspend operations while an investigation is carried out.
The pedestrian who perished when she was struck by a train has been identified as an 86-year-old surnamed Chen (陳). Her son said she had told him she was going to her garden to pick ripe vegetables.
When he noticed she had not returned for a long period of time, he rode his scooter to check the garden, but she was nowhere to be seen. He suspects that she was killed while crossing the railroad tracks to reach the garden.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A woman was fatally struck by a train in northeast Taiwan on Monday morning (May 10), prompting officials to temporarily suspend traffic on part of the route.
At 7:11 a.m., a woman suddenly stepped onto the tracks at the Jixiang Road level crossing between Toucheng and Jiaoxi in Yilan County and was hit by the Taroko Express No. 402 train. Railway personnel immediately called 119.
The Yilan Fire Bureau immediately rushed paramedics to the scene. However, when they arrived, the woman was clearly dead, and there was no possibility of resuscitation.
The Taiwan Railway Administration temporarily reduced two-way traffic to one line. Railway traffic later resumed on both lines at 8:48 a.m.
The delay affected 11 trains and 2,400 passengers. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.
LONDON - British officials could declare one of the new coronavirus strains first found in India a "variant of concern", the BBC and Guardian reported on Friday (May 7), due to evidence that it spreads more quickly than the original version of the virus.
Scientists and doctors have recommended that one version of the variant first found in India, known as B16172, is designated a "variant of concern", as it appears to have been spreading more quickly in the United Kingdom than other variants, the BBC said.
The original variant in India, B1617, was first detected in October, but Public Health England (PHE) has categorised three different subtypes, all with slightly different mutations.
While B16172 seems to be as transmissible as the Kent variant which fuelled much of Britain's second Covid-19 wave, there is no evidence it is resistant to current vaccines, the BBC said, citing a source.
Other variants of concern include variants first identified in Kent, south-east England, as well as in South Africa and Brazil.
Public Health England (PHE) said that weekly variant data, which had been due on Thursday, was delayed due to a "processing issue," though The Guardian said that the update was delayed due to local elections.
PHE had no immediate comment on the reports.
LAKE CHARLES, LOUISIANA - When President Joe Biden arrived in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Thursday (May 6) to push for spending trillions of dollars on infrastructure nationwide, plywood still covered windows broken from back-to-back hurricanes that devastated the city last summer.
"I promise you, we're going to build back better," Biden said, talking about the need to act as climate change continues. "Better able to withstand storms that are becoming more severe and more frequent than ever."
Just weeks from the start of hurricane season, climate experts warn that Biden's administration has yet to take steps that would turn his pledge to "build back better" into reality.
They cite its failure to reinstitute a rule on building in flood zones that former President Donald Trump scrapped, its lack of an overarching climate resilience strategy and the fact that it has yet to hire senior staff to manage and coordinate that work.
"You can't simply say, we're going to have resilient infrastructure, without having a plan and definition for what that means," said Alice Hill, who oversaw climate resilience during the Obama administration.
The concerns raised about Biden's actions so far highlight the difference between two distinct areas of climate action. In addition to cutting the emissions of planet-warming gases, experts are increasingly urging the federal government to help prepare communities for the effects of that warming, such as worsening storms and rising seas.
Those policies, which experts call climate adaptation, can be unpopular: They can include tougher and more expensive building standards in areas exposed to flooding or hurricanes; allowing fewer homes to be built in those places to begin with; or even encouraging people to leave.
The difficulty of talking about those steps is exactly why Biden's administration needs to make them part of its climate agenda, said Robert Freudenberg, vice president for energy and environment at the Regional Plan Association, a planning group in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
But so far, tackling climate adaptation and resilience are not atop the agenda, Freudenberg said.
A White House spokesman, Vedant Patel, said in a statement that "bolstering resilience and adaptation is a critical priority for President Biden." On his first day as President, Biden won praise from climate resilience experts by signing an executive order that, according to the White House, reinstated an Obama-era rule on flood risk.
The rule imposed higher standards on federally funded construction in flood zones. It was rescinded by Trump after the home building industry said it would increase costs.
Climate experts hailed Biden's move as a crucial step to ensure that new homes, roads and other investments would be safe from rising seas, stronger hurricanes and more intense storms. In particular, restoring the flood rule would help ensure that projects funded through the President's US$2 trillion (S$2.6 trillion) infrastructure package would be better protected.
But the administration reversed itself last month, saying that Biden's order did not in fact reinstate the flood rule. No reason was given. Patel did not respond to questions about the rule.
Rob Moore, a senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defence Council, said the administration needed to put the flood rule in place. "Otherwise, they run the risk of a lot of money going out the door to build things that fall in the water," he said.
The administration has also worried climate resilience experts with its hiring decisions.
Biden created an office within the White House to coordinate domestic climate policy across agencies, staffed by experts in energy and other issues. But no one in that office focuses on resilience and adaptation policy.
Instead, those issues will be coordinated from the Council on Environmental Quality, viewed as a less powerful office. The council has yet to announce someone to fill that role.
Nor has the White House nominated anyone to oversee resilience at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, among the most important jobs for climate resilience policy in the federal government.
Representative Garret Graves of Louisiana, the top Republican on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, said the administration should emphasise climate resilience, an area that concerns both Democrats and Republicans.
"We need to be making more investment into resilience programmes," he said. "We can cut all emissions globally today, and we're still projected to see seas rise."
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Kaohsiung City Government has unveiled new plans to promote English education at all 348 schools in the city.
To meet the goal of developing Taiwan into a bilingual nation by 2030, Kaohsiung City Government will set up a "Bilingual Education Cultivation Center" this year to train aspiring teachers so they can conduct bilingual classes at different levels. English clubs and foreign student teaching programs will also be introduced at schools that were not covered in the government's previous bilingual programs.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday (May 6), Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said the city government will collaborate with National Sun Yat-sen University and Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages to equip Taiwanese teachers with bilingual education skills and improve their English proficiency. Both universities will also recruit foreign students to serve as bilingual teaching assistants at secondary and elementary schools, he explained.
Meanwhile, he said bilingual clubs can offer stress-free learning environments for students to gain more exposure to English. He added that schools in the city are also encouraged to hire native speakers to teach physical education and art-related subjects.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — For the second time in five days, a Chinese man has managed to reach Taiwan on a small rubber boat, despite stepped up surveillance and patrols.
The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) on Thursday (May 6) announced that it had apprehended a Chinese national surnamed Chiang (江) in his 20s after he rowed to Kinmen in an inflatable rubber raft. Chiang was found to have brought pork dumplings on the boat, which authorities immediately destroyed.
The CGA stated that at 4:50 p.m. on Tuesday (May 4), radar operators detected a suspicious object on the waters north of Kinmen that was heading towards the coast. The CGA immediately dispatched patrol boats to the area at 5:53 p.m., officers spotted Chiang on the shore near an Army facility.
After confirming that Chiang did not have a fever, officers inspected his raft and found he had a suitcase that contained two portable chargers, two mobile phones, two bank cards, and a utility knife, all of which were immediately disinfected.
Also in Chiang's possession were 16 dumplings and due to African swine fever concerns, CGA personnel immediately notified the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, which dispatched personnel to have them destroyed.
Chiang told officers that he is a resident of Guangxi Province, where he purchased the raft online. He said that he set out from Chinese-controlled Xiaodeng Island at 4 a.m. that morning. When he asked why he made the illegal crossing he simply said "I just wanted to come."
The CGA is currently investigating the man's true motives for making the illegal journey. After Chiang completes his quarantine, he will be investigated for violating Article 74 of the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法)
On April 30, the 33-year-old man, identified with the surname Zhou (周), managed to guide a rubber boat with a small outboard motor from Fujian's Shishi City all the way to Taichung Harbor. When asked by had come to Taiwan, he said he was "yearning for freedom and democracy."
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