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Quake Alert: Taiwan's Treasured Taroko National Park Shuts Down Indefinitely

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Amidst the aftermath of Taiwan's strongest earthquake in a quarter-century, the revered Taroko National Park in eastern Taiwan stands silent, its once bustling trails and visitor centers now deserted. A beloved sanctuary for both local and international travelers, the park has declared an indefinite closure, citing extensive damages inflicted by the seismic event.

In a solemn proclamation, the park administration announced, "All levels of trails and facilities within the Taroko National Park jurisdiction have been damaged. In order to ensure the safety of visitors, the park will continue to close all trails and visitor service stations in the park from today and suspend services." With a heavy heart, they added, "During the closure period, the park will continue to carry out road and trail repair work and assess the safety of the park. The reopening time after the closure will be announced separately.

Echoing the somber tone, authorities disclosed that permits granting access to the ecological protected areas in Yushan, Taroko, and Shei-Pa National Parks have been rendered invalid. Visitors, once the tremors settle, will need to reapply for permits anew. Across the 32 trails that crisscross the park's expanse, silence reigns supreme, as indicated on the park's website.

Spanning 920 square kilometers, this haven was enshrined as a National Park of Taiwan in 1986. Renowned for its rugged terrain, towering cliffs, and awe-inspiring vistas, Taroko Gorge now bears the scars of the cataclysm, with notable landmarks such as the Tunnel of Nine Turns and Shakadang Trail bearing the brunt of rockfalls and landslides triggered by the magnitude 7.4 earthquake.

In a glimmer of hope, Lin Chung-shan, deputy director of the Taroko National Park Headquarters, revealed that the Hehuan Mountain area, nestled within the park's boundaries, has sustained comparatively lesser damage and will gradually reopen its gates to the public.

Reflecting on its erstwhile allure, statistics from the Hualien Tourism Department reveal that the Taroko National Park captivated 3.45 million visitors in 2023, each drawn by its pristine beauty and untamed wilderness. Yet, for now, the park lies in hushed anticipation, awaiting the day when its trails will once again echo with the footsteps of explorers and nature enthusiasts alike.

As the Taroko National Park weathers this tumultuous chapter in its storied history, the spirit of resilience burns brightly within its craggy cliffs and lush valleys. While the closure casts a shadow over its once-thriving landscape, it also serves as a poignant reminder of nature's raw power and the imperative of stewardship in its wake. As repair efforts press forward and the park's guardians assess the extent of the damage, a collective hope emerges that Taroko will emerge from this trial stronger and more resilient than ever before. And when the time comes for its grand reopening, it will stand not only as a testament to Taiwan's natural beauty but as a beacon of perseverance in the face of adversity.

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