Perilous Times and Climate Change
7 dead, 25 missing, lowland areas under 4 feet of water after typhoon
By ANNIE HUANG
The Associated Press
Friday, October 22, 2010; 10:20 AM
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Record rains from a powerful typhoon caused massive
mud- and rockslides in Taiwan that buried a Buddhist temple and trapped
vehicles on a highway, where one bus carrying 19 Chinese tourists was
The mudslide at the temple killed seven people, and overall, 25 people
were missing in Taiwan as Typhoon Megi swept toward southern China,
where landfall was expected late Friday or Saturday. The storm earlier
killed 26 people and damaged homes and crops in the Philippines.
Megi dumped a record 45 inches (114 centimeters) of rain in Taiwan's
Ilan county over 48 hours. It had winds of 90 mph (145 kph) and was
about 275 miles (440 kilometers) southeast of Hong Kong on Friday
evening, the Hong Kong Observatory said.
Seven people were killed at the White Cloud Temple in Suao city along
the eastern coast when a mudslide buried the building, Taiwanese cable
TV stations reported. Rescuers were using bulldozers to try to dig out
two other people, Ilan county chief Lin Tsong-hsien said.
Two buses carrying Chinese tourists were on a six-mile (10-kilometer)
stretch of a coastal highway in Ilan that was hit by at least seven
rockslides Thursday night, Premier Wu Den-yih said. Nineteen people on
one bus were rescued - five with light to moderate injuries - but the
Taiwanese driver and the Chinese tour guide were still missing, Wu said.
There had been no contact with the driver, tour guide and 19 tourists
aboard the other bus, he said.
TV news reported a 500-yard (500-meter) stretch of the highway had
collapsed. The rockslides trapped about 30 vans, buses and cars,
Air force helicopters were searching for the missing bus and some two
dozen other travelers cut off by the rockslides, Interior Minister
Chiang Yi-hua said. Those travelers were not in any immediate danger,
The storm dumped heavy rains throughout Taiwan, but Ilan, about 90
miles (150 kilometers) southeast of Taipei, was the hardest hit.
Authorities said more than 2,500 residents had been evacuated. Broad
swaths of farmland in the county were under many feet (several meters)
Earlier this week, Megi killed more than two dozen people and damaged
thousands of homes in the northern Philippines. The storm also forced
55,000 Filipinos from their homes and caused about $175 million in
damage to infrastructure and crops, disaster officials said.
Megi was expected to hit China's southern Guangdong and Fujian
provinces between Friday night and Saturday, meteorologists said.
In Fujian, authorities said 161,800 people were evacuated to safer
An official in Guangdong's Shantou city said fishermen were told to
return to ports and authorities designated some 200 buildings in the
city as emergency shelters.
"This kind of strong typhoon is very rare for this season in Shantou.
We are treating it as a 'super strong typhoon' and making our
preparations accordingly," said a relief official who only gave his
Hong Kong's main port remained partially shut, with leading port
operator Hongkong International Terminals halting the processing of
containers, the company said.
In Vietnam, the death toll from severe flooding in four central
provinces climbed to 75, including 14 victims from a bus swept off a
road by strong currents, with six passengers still missing, disaster
officials said Friday.
While Megi bypassed Vietnam, the country's central region was pummeled
by 4.6 feet (140 centimeters) of rain over the past week, inundating
large swaths of land, submerging nearly 280,000 houses and forcing more
than 170,000 villagers from their homes.
Meanwhile, another storm, Cyclone Giri, was spinning in the Bay of
Bengal and likely to make landfall Saturday in western Myanmar. The
storm was expected to hit with winds of 75 mph (120 kph) and a tidal
surge as high as 12 feet (370 centimeters).
Cyclone Nargis in 2008 killed 130,000 people in Myanmar.
Associated Press writers Min Lee and Cara Anna in Hong Kong, Hrvoje
Hranjski in Manila, and researcher Zhao Liang in Beijing contributed to