Typhoon Morakot sparks exodus: up to 1,000 missing in Taiwan

Fears were growing for 1,000 villagers in southern Taiwan who were declared ‘missing’ on Monday after a typoon resulted in a landslide that buried up to 200 houses under a wall of mud.

Typhoon Morakot has battered the Philippines, Taiwan and southeastern China over the last 48 hours killing at least 34 people and causing more than a million people to flee.

Taiwanese television networks reported that up to 200 homes in the village of Shiaolin in Kaohsiung county were buried after typhoon Morakot – meaning emerald in Thai – dumped 2.5m (8ft) of rain on the island in 24 hours on Friday.

Helicopters were used to drop food supplies in the vicinity of the village on Monday but bad weather prevented pilots from landing. Rescue workers were unable to access the village because of fallen bridges and damaged roads.
“It is not clear what the residents’ situation is, but we are sure that Hsiaolin elementary school has been fully destroyed,” Kaohsiung County Magistrate Yang Chiu-hsin told reporters.
Taiwan’s Disaster Relief Center said Morakot had killed 12 people and another 52 were missing, including 14 people whose makeshift home was swept away. In the Philippines the death toll rose to 22 on Monday morning.
The southeast coast of China was hit by Morakot on Sunday night where a four-year-old boy was killed in the city of Wenzhou after his family’s house collapsed in heavy rains that preceded the eye of the storm.
The child was buried along with four adults in debris. After rescuing the family emergency workers fought to save the child but were unable to save him, China’s state news agency Xinhua reported.
As the typhoon weakened to a tropical storm on Monday, emergency workers began cleaning up the debris from more than 2,000 collapsed houses, opening roads blocked by fallen trees and distributing fresh drinking water to inundated villages.
In some villages farmers used buckets to catch fish that had been swept out of coastal fish farms by high waves, in other areas where roads were impassable, local officials delivered instant noodles to stranded villages on their bicycles.
Initial estimates of damage caused by the storm were put at nearly £200m in China, while Taiwan said its agricultural losses exceeded £20m.