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Deadly typhoon triggers landslides in Taiwan

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-10-23

Rescuers in Taiwan are still searching for two dozen missing people after Typhoon Megi struck the island, killing at least 11 and causing massive landslides. The storm was forecast to make landfall in southeast China on Saturday.

AFP - Rescuers were Saturday searching for two dozen people missing in Taiwan after Typhoon Megi lashed the island killing at least 11, as China braced for the storm to make landfall.

Emergency workers dug up nine bodies buried under the debris of a temple swamped by mudslides while two more were found in a house and a port in northeastern Ilan county, the National Fire Agency said.

Among the dead were three nuns and a toddler, who were in the temple sheltering from the typhoon, which dumped a record one metre (three feet) of rain on the area in less than two days.

Also in Ilan, soldiers and rescuers continued their search along a highway where landslides have left at least 26 people still missing.

One Chinese tour guide and a Taiwanese driver were unaccounted for after their bus was hit by mudslides, although 21 passengers managed to escape, the fire agency said.

The local China Times quoted a mainland tourist as saying the guide and driver had stayed behind to help others escape before the bus was hit by falling rocks and sent tumbling down a slope.

Rescuers have found the wreckage of the bus but it was not immediately clear if the two were in the bus or not, said an official at the agency.

A search was also continuing for another bus carrying 19 mainland tourists and two Taiwanese, he said.

"Our priority is to continue searching for people and vehicles buried (by mudslides) and to clear the road," transport minister Mao Chi-kuo was quoted by state Central News Agency as saying.

The typhoon disrupted air traffic on the island, forcing more than 100 flights to be cancelled on Saturday and wreaking an estimated 45 million Taiwan dollars (1.45 million US) in damage to agricultural land.

Megi, the strongest storm to hit the northwest Pacific in two decades, has already killed at least 36 people in the Philippines and was forecast to make landfall in Fujian province in southeast China on Saturday.

Authorities in Xiamen, a large city that is expected to receive the full force of Typhoon Megi, have closed all beaches and stopped ferries from leaving port, according to state media, amid reports of heavy swells and high waves.

Images broadcast live on state television showed trees being bent sideways as strong winds and rain lashed Fujian province's Zhangpu county, which is expected to be hit first by the approaching typhoon.

China was hit earlier this year by its worst floods in more than a decade, with more than 4,300 people dead or missing -- including 1,500 people killed in one devastating mudslide in the northwestern province of Gansu in August.

Megi will be the 13th typhoon to hit the Chinese mainland this year.

Date created : 2010-10-23


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