It was undoubtedly a tragedy. Twenty-three lives, including nineteen tourists from China, are still missing in a landslide as a result of the torrential rain brought by Typhoon Megi along the Suhua Highway eleven days ago. Despite of the efforts of hundreds of rescue workers, the chance of survival of these victims was like being covered by tons of rocks that were washed into the water and gone with the current of the East Sea.
Whereas rescue team is still digging on land, ROC Navy also sent two Knox-class frigates, equipped with SQS-26 low-frequency sonar specifically designed by the US during the Cold War era to search for Russian submarines, to join the search hoping to find whatever left on the bottom of the sea. The deployment of naval vessels was deemed by some as overreacting and ineffective for the sonar is not fitted for finding small objects like debris of the tourist bus or anything metal carried by the tourists.
In fact, sending heavy military hardware out into the sea was a result of remarks made by the families of Chinese tourists. Anxious to bring back their loved ones dead or alive and afraid that Taiwan authority would stop the rescue operation, they asserted that People’s Liberation Army would do a better search and rescue job than their Taiwanese counterpart. Soon after the media reported their grumble, our Defense Ministry, knowing sensibly that the deployment might be a misallocation of valuable military resources, had no choice but give the green light to save our face.
It is believed that rescue resources should be placed upon finding survivors, so would it be justifiable to continue the search as most know clearly in mind that nothing miraculous would come out? Men, equipments, and expenditures could be otherwise shifted to build a safer highway for people of Hualien County.