A 46-meter tall Formosan cypress in Xitou Nature Education Area crashed to the ground Sunday, injuring three people, Nantou County firefighters said.
The three people were all taken to Chu Shang Show Chwan Hospital in the neighboring Zhushan Township, where one of them was diagnosed with a spinal injury, fractured ribs, and a ruptured kidney and spleen, firefighters said.
The 49-year-old woman, surnamed Chen, was later transferred to Changhua Christian Hospital, the rescue workers said.
The other two -- a 68-year-old woman and a 55-year-old man - sustained only minor injuries, the firefighters said.
The man, surnamed Chou, said he was visiting Xitou for the first time with a tour group that was admiring the giant cypress tree.
As they were about to leave, they heard a cracking sound and people started shouting "Go, go, leave now!" he said.
As the 70-plus people in the area began running, the tree toppled and he was trapped under its branches, Chou said.
The cypress, 4.3 meters in diameter, is estimated to be 2,800 years old. It is one of the main attractions in the Nature Education Area and is located about a 50-minute walk from the entrance.
National Taiwan University Experimental Forest Administration, which manages the nature education area, said visitors are covered by insurance.
The area around the tree has been cordoned off pending investigation by experts, the forest administration said.
According to the website of Xitou Nature Education Area, the giant tree was still alive, although the center was "mostly rotted out and hollow."
The experimental forest, which is located in Nantou County, was a field and academic research site for Tokyo Imperial University of Japan until 1945, when Japan's colonization of Taiwan ended.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel