Taiwanese village buried by mudslide, as Asian typhoon death toll mounts
Torrential rains and strong winds provoked by the storm have also hit Japan, the Philippines and China, but Taiwan has been the worst affected, accounting for 32 of the 47 people left dead or missing.
Rescuers were Thursday evacuating people from areas in Taiwan's mountainous Hsinshu County, after a wall of mud enveloped more than 20 houses in Tochang village in a landslide triggered by the typhoon, a local official said.
Fifteen people are believed to be buried under the mud, Hsinshu Mayor Cheng Yung-chin told reporters after flying over the stricken village in a helicopter. Television reports said one body had been recovered since the incident happened late Wednesday.
Rescue teams, backed by helicopters, Thursday evacuated 20 people trapped in remote villages in Hsinshu, Cheng said.
"We had lived such a peaceful life in the past 20 years and now ... it came so suddenly ... like a nightmare," a sobbing woman told reporters from a stretcher after being airlifted to safety.
The typhoon has now claimed at least 10 lives in Taiwan, after the bodies of a preacher and his wife, washed away by floods in central Nantou County, were found.
One victim was a Hong Kong fisherman who died after his boat capsized in rough seas off Taiwan's northern coast Monday.
Twenty-two others are missing and feared dead, including three fishermen from Hong Kong and China, since Typhoon Aere slammed into the island packing winds of more than 130 kilometers (80 miles) per hour three days ago.
Financial markets, schools and offices have been shut for two days as thousands of people in low-lying and mountainous areas were evacuated after flooding and landslides.
In China, authorities were Thursday mopping up after sustaining heavy damage from the typhoon however only one man was reported missing.
Early reports indicated that a decision by authorities to evacuate more than one million people before Aere made land in Fujian province paid off, with houses and infrastructure demolished but a limited human toll.
"We have only seen seven minor injuries and no deaths so far," a Fujian provincial government spokesman told AFP.
"The seven were slightly hurt by falling houses, trees or advertising hoardings," she said.
Damage though was heavy with 8,270 houses destroyed and 46,800 hectares of farmland ruined. The Fujian Water Resources Department said on its website that six reservoirs were badly damaged and 50 dams had been breached.
In total, the province moved 937,000 people to safety while neighbouring Zhijiang, fearing a repeat of the chaos caused by Typhoon Rananim that left 164 dead just weeks ago, evacuated 249,000.
Zhejiang reported only one person missing as Aere blew itself southwards.
Aere also took its toll on the Philippines, where schools and government offices remained closed in Manila Thursday as emergency workers toiled to restore order after two days of typhoon-induced bad weather.
Some 12 people were dead or missing while thousands were at government-run evacuation centers after soldiers plucked them from flooded residential areas in suburban Manila.
Japan, meanwhile, was bracing for Typhoon Chaba that was moving north-northwest and was expected to hit Okinawa Friday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
Two young girls died in Japan this week when they were swept away by heavy seas in the south, also hit by Aere.
The Hong Kong Observatory Thursday downgraded Aere to a tropical storm which it said was moving towards China's southeastern Guangdong province.
Copyright (c) 2004 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 08/26/2004 02:35:25
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