Dozens killed as storms batter east Asia

At least 42 people died and scores more were reported missing on Tuesday after typhoons ravaged Taiwan and Japan, causing floods and landslides and toppling multi-storey buildings as parts of the region experienced their worst weather in 50 years.


AFP - At least 42 people died and scores more were reported missing Tuesday after typhoons battered East Asia, as parts of the region experienced their worst weather in half a century.

Most of those killed were in Taiwan when Typhoon Morakot slammed into the island, dumping a record 3.0 metres (120 inches) of rain at the weekend.

The storm hit mainland China Sunday afternoon, where it claimed at least six lives as authorities ordered more than a million people to evacuate several provinces.

And Chinese state media reported Tuesday that a landslide triggered by torrential rain from Typhoon Morakot toppled "six or seven" four storey apartment buildings, burying an unknown number of residents.

They collapsed at the foot of a mountain in Pengxi Township, near Wenzhou City in the eastern province of Zhejiang late Monday evening, the official Xinhua news agency said.

In Japan, 13 people died in floods and landslides caused by torrential rain as Typhoon Etau bore down on the archipelago, forcing thousands into emergency shelters and disrupting travel networks.

Rescuers in Taiwan were battling to reach hundreds cut off by Morakot as widespread floods and mudslides knocked out railway and road traffic, cut power and water supplies and brought down bridges.

In the southeast, a six-storey hotel collapsed into a river. Staff and guests had already been evacuated, television reports said.

At least 23 people were confirmed dead on the island and 56 others were still unaccounted for, rescue services said.

In the southern county of Pingtung thousands of people were trapped in three coastal townships while in Kaohsiung county a bridge collapsed, cutting off road access to a remote village of 1,300 residents.

Local television reported that 200 homes in the village, Hsiaolin, were believed to have been buried in a mudslide.

Specially trained rescuers and soldiers from an elite unit were helicoptered into the village. The authorities plan to send up to 160 rescuers, an official from the disaster contingency centre surnamed Liang told AFP.

"As long as weather permits, we'll send more people there," he said.

Su Shen-tsun, one the rescuers flown into Hsiaolin by helicopter, told reporters that he was surprised by what he had seen.

"I could hardly believe my eyes," Su said. "The whole village disappeared and even roofs of the houses could not be seen."

Tens of thousands of people were also stranded in the counties of Tainan and Chiayi.

In Japan's Hyogo prefecture more than 100 troops were deployed as a rain-swollen river burst its banks and inundated about 480 houses.

Typhoon Etau, packing winds of up to 108 kilometres (67 miles) an hour, was forecast to hit the Tokyo area Tuesday, Japan's meteorological agency said, issuing nationwide heavy rain and landslide warnings.

Twelve of the country's dead and several missing were reported in Hyogo, said a police spokesman. "We are now concentrating on rescue operations while trying to check if more people are missing," he told AFP.

Eighteen people were unaccounted for nationally, according to media reports.

In Okayama prefecture, a 68-year-old woman died and three others were injured as a landslide flattened two houses.

Typhoon Morakot made landfall on the Chinese mainland on Sunday afternoon, lashing cities in the area with 83 kilometre (51 mile) an hour winds, Shanghai's weather bureau said.

By late Monday, Morakot had left six people dead and three others missing on the mainland, state media reported, quoting the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Four deaths were reported in Zhejiang province and one each in Fujian and Jiangxi provinces, Xinhua quoted the ministry as saying. Two people in Zhejiang and another in Fujian are missing.

More than 8.8 million people in the three coastal provinces and in Anhui province as well were affected by Morakot, which forced local authorities to relocate 1.4 million.

Morakot weakened to become a tropical storm early Monday, but meteorologists warned it was still likely to bring rain of up to 90 millimetres (3.5 inches) an hour to Shanghai, China's largest city.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning