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Extra troops for Taiwan rescue

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Taiwan rescue effort continues

The Taiwanese government is sending more than 4,000 extra soldiers to speed up rescue efforts after last weekend's deadly Typhoon Morakot.

Hundreds of people feared buried by mudslides in the south of the country have been found alive.

But Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou - who visited the rescue operation centre in Qishan - said hundreds more were likely to have died.

The death toll rose to 107 after bodies were found in Liukuai in the south.

About 6,500 people were found stranded in a village near Alishan, a scenic mountain area popular with tourists, Taiwan's Central News Agency said.

Military helicopters have been airlifting some of the survivors to safety, and dropping provisions for others. Continuing rain has hampered their efforts.

Armoured vehicles, marine landing craft and rubber dinghies have been deployed in the rescue operation, along with more than 17,000 troops, the defence ministry said.

It is now confirmed that all three crew aboard a rescue helicopter which crashed in the bad weather on Tuesday were killed.

President Ma met survivors and anxious relatives waiting for news of loved ones.

He said no effort would be spared to rescue them.

Nearly 1,000 people were found alive in a cluster of villages flattened by muddy landslides, and survivors have recounted the horror of watching their homes vanish.

One eyewitness described the devastation wrought on the village of Hsiaolin.

"I saw the mountain crumbling in seconds almost like an explosion and bury half of our neighbourhood," Huang Chin-bao, 56, told AFP news agency.

He said he and 40 neighbours were guided by his two dogs to higher ground.

"The dogs are our saviours," he said.

The typhoon struck Taiwan at the weekend, causing the worst flooding in 50 years.

'Save my village'

The BBC's Cindy Sui at the rescue centre in Qishan says the authorities fear that hundreds more people could still be trapped.

A statue of Buddha’s head submerged in flood waters and debris from Typhoon Morakot in southern Taiwan on 11 August 2009

She says family members from surrounding areas have been converging on Hsiaolin, demanding that helicopters be sent to their villages too.

Some are carrying signs that read, "Save my village".

The search for survivors has been a slow process as the only way in and out of the villages is by helicopter, our correspondent adds.

The BBC's Alastair Leithead, also at the Qishan rescue base, says a high school playing field has become a landing pad for helicopters, and ambulances are lining the running track to ferry the injured to hospital.

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Alastair Leithead: "It's been another tough day for the rescuers"

Morakot lashed Taiwan with at least two metres (80in) of rain over the weekend.

It is typhoon season in the North West Pacific, which brings storms like Morakot with exceptionally high rainfall and strong winds, said Liam Dutton from the BBC Weather Centre.

But, to put it in context, he said Morokot brought around 40 times as much rain to Taiwan as would fall on a typical wet weekend in the United Kingdom.

Typhoon Morakot has caused at least $225m (£135m) in agricultural damage, while nearly 30,000 houses are still without power and 750,000 homes are without water, according to the latest estimates from officials.

The storm also hit mainland China, where about 1.4 million people were evacuated from coastal areas, eight people died in flooding and up to 10,000 homes were destroyed.

In the town of Pengxi in China's eastern province of Zhejiang, a landslide toppled seven older houses, reportedly killing two people.

Meanwhile in Japan, another seasonal storm, Typhoon Etau, caused floods and landslides that have killed at least 15 people since the weekend and left a dozen missing.

About 1,000 people spent Tuesday night in shelters and 4,600 households were without water, officials said.

Rainfall on Taiwan during typhoon Morakot


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