Surging river water kills five hikers in Taiwan

A fire department worker checks on 15-year-old Ho Yu-chieh on June 6, 2016, who was washed away by surging water during a river hiking trip.
A fire department worker checks on 15-year-old Ho Yu-chieh on June 6, 2016, who was washed away by surging water during a river hiking trip.PHOTO: AFP
A worker sweeps water out during a partial power failure after heavy rain caused flooding at Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan on June 2.
A worker sweeps water out during a partial power failure after heavy rain caused flooding at Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan on June 2. PHOTO: REUTERS
Passengers wait at the check-in counter in the dark during a partial power failure after heavy rain caused flooding at Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan on June 2.
Passengers wait at the check-in counter in the dark during a partial power failure after heavy rain caused flooding at Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan on June 2.PHOTO: REUTERS
This picture taken on June 2 shows a flooded area inside the northern Taoyuan international airport.
This picture taken on June 2 shows a flooded area inside the northern Taoyuan international airport.PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI (AFP) - Surging waters triggered by torrential rain killed five people in Taiwan after they were swept away while hiking down a river canyon, officials said on Monday (June 6).

Dramatic footage from local media showed a huge wave rushing down the Beishi River in New Taipei City where 24 people on a company trip were hiking on Sunday despite official warnings of torrential rain.

Hiking along river canyons, known locally as river tracing, is increasingly popular in Taiwan, with people wading and climbing through the water.

Six females in the group were swept away by the wave but one 15-year-old girl managed to grab hold of driftwood and later scrambled to safety.

The body of a 13-year-old girl was found Monday while the bodies of her mother and two other adults were pulled from the river Sunday, said the New Taipei City fire department.

Footage on the Apple Daily website showed rescuers pulling one of the women from the water and desperately trying in vain to resuscitate her.

Rescuers found the body of a missing 44-year-old woman, also a coach of the activity, later Monday.

The teenage survivor, Ho Yu-chieh, climbed onto a rock to wait for the water to recede before walking to nearby houses to seek help around dawn, her mother Liao Li-hsiang told reporters.

"It was dark so she sat on the rock for the water to go down... she is a calm child. She waited till the water receded so she can safely get on shore... and walked on her own to seek help when dawn came." The fire department intially identified the mother as Chen Li-hsiang but later corrected it.

Taiwan has been hit by heavy rain in the past week, triggering flooding that partially shut down Taoyuan International Airport near Taipei.