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Rescue efforts intensify across Southern Taiwan
Official death toll rises to 14, with 51 missing
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
Page 1
2009-08-11 12:57 AM
Rescue teams tried to reach isolated villages in the wake of Typhoon Morakot yesterday, dropping supplies and freeing residents, or looking for travelers missing after bridges collapsed and roads were swept away. The official death toll rose to 14, with 51 people missing and 32 injured. Attention focused on Hsiaolin Village in Chiahsien, Kaohsiung County, where the fate of hundreds of residents was unclear after a mountainside collapsed. The village counted 1,300 inhabitants, according to official data, but it was not known how many were staying locally during the typhoon.

Helicopters brought 43 residents out during a short window of improved weather yesterday morning, though they were unable to land at the site. A further 50 people were still waiting for relief inside the village, reports said. The military were planning to send in more than 150 troops overland to try and reach the area.

Yesterday evening, reports said about 30 Hsiaolin residents were hiding inside a tunnel, but by that time, it was too dark to send a helicopter, rescue services said.

A similar situation also affected Namahsia Village in the same area, where 3,000 residents were staying without water, power, and food, reports said. The search also continued yesterday for motorists who had been swept away by water while driving. One body was reportedly found after seven cars carrying an estimated 12 people were believed to have crashed into a river near Chichi, Nantou County. Rescue workers found a car lying upside down on the rocks, but no sign of the driver.

Police was criticized for being too slow in cordoning off dangerous stretches of road in the mountainous area. Problems were allegedly reported just before 4:00 a.m. Sunday, but it took police more than an hour to show up and close the road. Linpien and Chiatung, two of the worst-hit townships in Pingtung County, were still flooded yesterday. The military drove armored personnel carriers into the area to intensify the evacuation.

Near Kaohsiung harbor, the authorities were trying to prevent a leak in a Panamanian chemical tanker which had run aground during the typhoon, reports said. The ship was only two years ago and was stuck on a sandy beach, reducing the risk of an oil spill, the authorities said. The authorities continued to collect information about the volume of damage to energy supplies and to infrastructure.

The state-owned Taiwan Power Corporation said 111,000 households were without electricity. Up to 580,000 households remained without water in Kaohsiung and Tainan Counties.

The Ministry of Education said the damage to 682 schools amounted to more than NT$180 million. It hoped the buildings could be restored to normal before the start of the next school year on Aug. 31.

Public transportation was set to suffer for months to come in some parts of Southern Taiwan, reports said. The southern cross-island railway passes through two of the most affected locations, Linpien in Pingtung County and Taimali in Taitung County. It could take up to six months to restore normal train service to some parts of Pingtung County, reports said.

Along the west coast, services resumed to as far south as Hsinying in Tainan County, with special bus services for travelers heading further south in the direction of Kaohsiung.

High speed trains were back in service yesterday, but on a revised schedule with extra trains and more seating available for passengers who bought tickets on the spot. The ferry connection between the outlying island of Matsu and the Chinese province of Fujian was still not functioning yesterday, though service between the other outlying island, Kinmen, and Fujian resumed yesterday.

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