08/12/2009, 00.00
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Morakot typhoon: rescuers save 700 people, thousands still missing

The villagers managed to scramble to higher ground before the mud buried their homes. 2 metres of rain fell over the weekend, causing the worst flooding in 50 years. One hundred official victims, damages for millions of dollars.

Taipei (AsiaNews / Agencies) - About 700 people in a mountainous area south of Taiwan are alive. Official sources of the army confirmed the news explaining that the villagers managed to get to higher ground "before their houses were buried” by a river of mud.

But thousands of people remain missing as a result of the passage of typhoon Morakot and tropical storm Etau, which struck the island of Taiwan, China and other parts of Asia last weekend, killing more than 100 people.

The Taiwan Central News Agency reports that among the survivors there are 200 people from Hsiaolin village. " We have found around 700 people alive in three villages last night and 26 more this morning. We are deploying 25 helicopters to evacuate them" said major Richard Hu, one of the chiefs of the rescue operation.

Typhoon Morakot struck the island of Taiwan last weekend, killing 63 people and causing the worst flooding in 50 years. However two meters of rain fell in over two days, catching unawares the regions authorities well used to tropical storms and typhoons.

The Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou will shortly visit the most affected area, to asses the damage and monitor relief operations. According to early estimates there are about 225 million dollars of damage to the agricultural industry and almost 30 thousand homes destroyed.

The storm also hit China, where 1.4 million people were evacuated from coastal areas. Eight people died and around 10 thousand homes destroyed.

In Japan, typhoon Etau killed 15 people, with a dozen more missing. A thousand spent last night in temporary shelters and 4600 homes are without water.
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