Three drown in separate incidents on same day in rivers, sea

Three fatal drowning accidents were reported around Taiwan on Saturday as many people flocked to the water in rivers and coasts to cool off amid the scorching hot weather, according to fire authorities on Sunday.

A drowning incident occurred in a section of the Xindian River near Qingtan Weir in Xindian, New Taipei when a 47-year-old man surnamed Lee (?) went missing at around 6 p.m. on Saturday after he and two of his friends surnamed Tung (?) and Yeh (?) went swimming there.

According to Tung and Yeh, they took the Taipei MRT from Songshan to Xindian and then Qingtan Weir on Saturday afternoon and at around 6 p.m. after they were changing into their swimming trunks, they did not see Lee but only his clothes on the platform of the river bank.

Tung and Yeh suspected Lee may have drowned and called police for help, according to New Taipei police.

The local fire department then dispatched personnel to search nearby public toilets and the river bank but they later halted rescue efforts due to poor visibility at night.

The body of Lee was recovered at 9:39 a.m. on Sunday after 32 rescuers had been mobilized to resume the search at 8 a.m., according to the city government.

On Saturday morning, a 16-year-old senior high school student surnamed Hung (?) who set off for a riverside hot spring near Guguan in Taichung with friends fell into a river when they were crossing it on their way to the hot spring.

His friends notified the police who then dispatched personnel to the scene to search for Hung. He was found at the bottom of a 3-meter pool but had no vital signs after being brought back ashore.

A third drowning took place at the Doufu Cape scenic area in Nanfang'ao Fishing Port in Yilan County around 3 p.m. on Saturday after an eight-year-old boy and two other children went into the water to play while their family of five went to the scenic area for an outing.

The boy disappeared in the water and was then found by a diver according to a local newspaper report, but showed no vital signs after being removed from the water and was pronounced dead later in the hospital.

Following these drownings, the National Fire Agency issued a press release Sunday advising people to be careful when playing in the water in the summer and to take water safety measures.

According to statistics compiled by the agency, in the past five years, an average of 902 drowning incidents was reported each year, with an average of 341 rescued and 536 deaths per year, while 25 people were missing.

The fire agency pointed out that most drownings happened in "rivers or streams," accounting for 44 percent, followed by "the seaside," accounting for 23 percent, and "ditches or trenches," accounting for 9 percent.

In addition, most of the drowning cases occurred from June to October, accounting for 54.7 percent, of which the most happened in July at 12.1 percent, while most water accidents occurred between 6:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. during the most popular water recreation period in the summer, according to the statistics.

The fire agency reminded people that though some streams may appear to be shallow and slow, there may be hidden dangers of invisible currents, and urged the public not to play in dangerous bodies of water which are marked with prohibited signs.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel