Typhoon leaves at least 35 dead in Taiwan

 

At least 35 people were dead and 108 missing after Typhoon Toraji struck east and south Taiwan, causing the worst mudslides and floods in 50 years, according to officials. Hundreds of homes and thousands of acres of farmland were destroyed by the typhoon, the National Fire Administration (NFA) reported.

It said that at least 35 people were killed - 21 in eastern Hualien county, 11 in Nantou and one each in Changhua, Taichung and Miaoli counties. The 108 people missing in Hualien and central Nantou, Changhua and Chiayi included some who were buried under mudslides or had been washed away by floods.

The NFA director, Mr Chao Kang, said the mountainous county of Hualien was the worst hit by mudslides, while Nantou county suffered serious flooding as water from swollen rivers inundated homes and hundreds of hectares of farmland.

Twenty-one bodies were pulled from mudslides which toppled homes in the villages of Kuangfu and Fenglin in Hualien, the NFA said. Among the victims were two Kuangfu police officers who were killed when their patrol car was buried under tonnes of mud.

Mr Fan Chung-chia from a Hualien village told cable television that he fled his home in pitch darkness. "I could not see what was happening to my family members," he said from his hospital bed.

Six members in his family - his parents, sisters and brothers-in-law - were either killed or missing.

Rescuers continued to search for survivors in Hualien yesterday despite nightfall as relatives identified victims at hospitals.