China - Taiwan Province

Feature: Typhoon-hit Taiwan village devestated, but resilient

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KAOHSIUNG, Aug 14, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- The 7-year-old girl Lin Wai-ki had slept in a tent for four nights before being taken to a temporary shelter by helicopters.

Her hometown, Minzu village in the mountains of Kaohsiung County in southern Taiwan, was engulfed by mudslides triggered by Typhoon Morakot, which has claimed 120 lives so far.

"My house is filled with rocks, and the school disappeared, but I want to go to school," she said.

Morakot, which hit Taiwan since last weekend, has been the worst typhoon in the past 50 years. Hamlets in mountain areas in southern Taiwan were hardest-hit.

A village of Kaohsiung named Hsiaolin reported an estimated death toll of 380.

Minzu village lost 30 people. More than 200 survivors were stranded in the mountain awaiting rescue for four days.

They were rescued on Thursday afternoon and transferred to a shelter in Cishan township of Kaohsiung County.

A beautiful brook trickled through Lin's village but turned to a relentless killer in the rainstorm five days ago.

"The brook gushed all of a sudden. The mudslide knocked down the primary school at the top of our village, " said Lin Su-yun, a middle-aged woman. "When my family and I crawled out of the second-floor window of my house, the ground floor had already been buried in mud."

"I saw a person buried in the mud with only one arm waving outside, " Lin said in tears. "We almost gave up."

Her son Chiou Yi-cheng sat by her side, holding her hand tightly. This high school boy shouldered the responsibility of protecting his mother and younger brother in his father's absence. He also joined other young men in rescuing their fellow villagers.

"Without these young men, we were doomed," Lin Su-yun said.

The survivors scurried up to a plateau and camped in makeshift tents waiting for rescuers.

In search for food, a dozen of young men in the village trudged along caved-in roads, and back to their mudlogged village. They brought back food recovered from accessible houses and stores.

They encircled children and the elderly when strong winds and rainfall threatened their shabby tents.

Of all survivors, only six had cell phones and soon survivors found communication was cut off by the typhoon.

It was these young men again that hiked all the way to a nearby village where communication facility still worked.

One of them, Lin Nien-en, a college freshman, said, "Now, here we are, but nobody has any idea about future. No one wants to get back, because there -- buried our families and friends --".

He buried his head in arms and did not finish the sentence.