Evacuation ordered for rock demolition

Evacuation ordered for rock demolition
An excavator works in Keelung yesterday to clear a temporary route for machinery and tools to be transported to the top of the steep hillside. A 2,000-ton rock perched on the hill is to be broken down. The Forestry Bureau said it will take about NT$6 million to break the stone and remove its pieces from the site.

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Keelung's district office for Zhongzheng, where a 2,000-ton rock is perched atop a steep hillside, yesterday issued an evacuation notice to 74 local shops and households.

The city's Public Works Bureau (PWB) is set to adopt the "silent static cracking technique" to break the giant rock and remove the pieces from the top of the hillside as soon as they transport the relevant machinery and tools to the site.

The district office said it issued the evacuation notice to ensure that people who live near the rock will not be affected or endangered by the stone-breaking process.

The project comes after a huge rock rolled down the same mountainside on Saturday, nearly hitting a passing car and damaging a section of Beining Road near Bisha Fishing Port. A video of the incident recorded by a dash cam has since gone viral.

Since then, several seafood restaurants and a McDonald's located on the same road have remained closed. A few shops in the neighborhood, however, are still operating.

A hotel next to the McDonald's currently still has tourists staying in it, and a coffee shop near the hillside is also still operating, according to the United Evening News.

The boulder to be demolished remains on the hillside. It is about 8 by 10 meters wide, 10 meters high and weighs around 2,000 tons. The Keelung government has closed a section of Beining Road on safety concerns, and is urging people to leave the area temporarily.

Forestry Bureau Director-General Lee Tao-sheng (李桃生) said it will cost approximately NT$6 million (S$257,900) to break down the rock and remove its pieces from the site.

Lee added that the NT$6 million will be covered by both the Keelung City Government and the central government.

Lee said the Forestry Bureau suggested that the city build a 500-meter temporary road for construction access, and begin the stone-breaking procedure on the surface of the rock that isn't facing the wind.

The PWB said it will adopt the "silent static cracking technique" - referring to a non-explosive technique that involves drilling holes into the rock and filling them with a powder composition that will expand, fracturing and splitting the rock.

The PWB added that it will take about 12 working days to break the stone.

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