Taipei: Rescuers were today frantically
searching for two dozen people missing in Taiwan after Megi
lashed the island killing at least 12, as the deadly typhoon
made landfall in China.
Megi, the strongest storm to hit the northwest Pacific
in two decades, killed 36 people after it battered the
Philippines earlier in the week, barrelling via Taiwan as it
menacingly moved towards China`s southern coast.
Emergency workers in Taiwan 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 north-eastern 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 on Thursday and Friday.
Also in Ilan, soldiers and rescuers continued their
search along a highway where landslides left at least 26
people missing after Megi whipped the island with sustained
maximum winds of 175 kilometres per hour.
A 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.
"We have dispatched special forces and other rescuers
to continue the search... We won`t give up on any chance of
finding the missing," President Ma Ying-jeou told reporters as
he inspected affected areas.
But patience was running thin as people struggled to
clean up their homes hit by flash floods when Megi set off
torrential rains that submerged houses, schools and streets.
Television footage showed an angry woman confront Ma,
complaining that her family had no water, no electricity and
no food for the past few days.
The typhoon disrupted air traffic on the island,
forcing more than 100 flights to be cancelled today and
wreaking an estimated 45 million Taiwan dollars (USD 1.45
million) in damage to agricultural land.