[Picture: United Daily News]
The search for a Taipei firefighter who went missing while on a hiking trip in Hualian County has been suspended after search and rescue teams failed to find a trace of the man after 20 days.
Firefighter Li Ying-xun (李盈勳) lost contact with his two hiking partners when he went searching for water at around 4:00pm March 1. Due to the remoteness of the location it was more than 24 hours until the men were able to reach a police station to report him missing.
The search and rescue mission started on March 3. Firefighters from Hualian County and Taipei City, and National Parks personnel were joined by local aboriginal hunters familiar with the area.
Search parties were hampered by bad weather and steep, treacherous terrain. Several searchers were injured by rockfalls, and one drowned after losing his footing and falling into a river.
Hualian County Fire Bureau said they had made the decision several days ago to end the search today March 21. Six personnel are still waiting to be airlifted out of the area after bad weather prevented an attempt this morning.