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Last Updated: Friday, 27 August, 2004, 09:47 GMT 10:47 UK
Rescue work continues in Taiwan
Tochang village, 27/08/04
The village of Tochang was almost completely buried in mud
Hundreds of rescue workers have been airlifted to a Taiwanese village hit by a huge mudslide earlier this week, triggered by Typhoon Aere.

Seven bodies have so far been found in the debris of Tochang village, and rescuers are looking for another eight.

Taiwan is still counting the cost of the typhoon's destruction.

At least 12 people have now been confirmed dead on the island, while more than 20 others are missing, presumed dead.

Meanwhile, reports from China say that while Typhoon Aere left no casualties on the mainland, it caused heavy economic losses.

Village engulfed

Rescue teams are using mechanical shovels to dig through the boulders and mud which took just seconds to engulf the village of Tochang, Hsinchu County, on Wednesday.

"It all happened in a split second and there was just no time to escape," local farmer Chen told the French news agency AFP.

"It was like the whole mountain came crashing down and falling on our village," she said.

"We never thought that this slope would give way. In less than two to three seconds, this whole area was flattened. My mother and son were killed," another survivor told the local news station TVBS.

A fleet of helicopters has been flying hundreds of soldiers, rescue workers and volunteers to the region, along with tonnes of food, water and communications equipment.

The helicopters also airlifted out the injured, and even rescued a group of panic-stricken tourists trapped in a popular scenic spot.

Typhoon Aere dumped a total of 1,335mm (53.4in) of rain on the area in three days.

The government issued a landslide warning to 80 towns across the island, and there has been heated debate about why Tochang was not evacuated before the disaster happened.

Economic losses

After lashing Taiwan, Aere swept into the south-eastern Chinese provinces of Fujian, Zhejiang and Guangdong.

It was eventually downgraded to a tropical storm as its winds slowed down.

According to the official Xinhua news agency, the typhoon has caused heavy economic losses on the Chinese mainland, with the damage expected to reach more than 2bn yuan ($257m).

About 46,800 hectares (115,596 acres) of crops were damaged, along with six reservoirs, Xinhua said.

But China has yet to report any deaths from the typhoon, and its policy of evacuating nearly a million people before Aere hit the region appears to have paid off.

Typhoon Rananim killed 164 people in the same area earlier this month, and this time is seems the authorities were taking no chances.

In the Philippines, eight people have been killed and thousands displaced by floods and landslides, after torrential rain triggered by both Typhoon Aere and Typhoon Chaba.

Government offices and schools reopened in Manila on Friday as the city began cleaning up after the downpour.

Southern Japan is now bracing itself for Typhoon Chaba, which weather forecasters expect to hit Okinawa later on Friday.

Typhoons frequently hit East Asia during the summer, gathering strength from warm sea waters.

Taiwan battered by Typhoon Aere
24 Aug 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Scores killed by Chinese typhoon
13 Aug 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Taiwan struck by deadly flooding
05 Jul 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Typhoon Sinlaku spares Taiwan
07 Sep 02  |  Asia-Pacific
Taiwan braces for typhoon
06 Sep 02  |  Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Taiwan
10 Aug 04  |  Country profiles


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