Mudslides triggered by Typhoon Morakot covered the Taiwanese villege of Shiao Lin, shown in an aerial view on Monday. As many as 600 people are missing in the area. ((Taiwan Military News Agency/Associated Press))

Taiwan's military rescued about 260 people Tuesday after typhoon-spawned mudslides covered their remote village, but hundreds of others could still be missing.

The rescues took place in the mountain village of Shiao Lin, where mudslides triggered by Typhoon Morakot are believed to have buried as many as 600 people on Sunday.

The storm, which triggered the worst flooding in Taiwan in 50 years, dumped as much as two metres of rain before moving on to China. Taiwan's official death toll stands at 41.

Many people fled to higher ground moments before the mudslide and have been waiting for rescue helicopters.

Villagers rescued from Shiao Lin said hundreds more people are trapped by the mud.


Taiwanese rescuers assist mudslide survivors after they were removed by military helicopter. ((Associated Press))

"There are still a lot of people trapped inside," said one villager, identified as Lin Mei-ying. "Please go faster so they can be saved."

Taiwan's population registry lists Shiao Lin as having 1,300 inhabitants, though many are believed to live elsewhere.

Also Tuesday, a helicopter carrying three people crashed into a mountain in Taiwan while trying to rescue villagers.

Wreckage of the helicopter has been spotted near Wutai, a mountainous region in southern Pingtung county, said disaster official Chen Chung-hsien.

Mass evacuations in China

After slamming into Taiwan, the typhoon hit China's Fujian province with winds of up to 120 km/h, said the China Meteorological Administration.

China's state news agency, Xinhua, said as many as 1.4 million people have been taken to safer ground.

The news agency reported several people were buried in mudslides in the town of Pengxi in eastern Zhejiang province. An official surnamed Chen from the Pengxi government told The Associated Press two people were killed and four were pulled out alive from the mud.

The heavy rains destroyed a seven-storey apartment building in the town, Chen said.

In Japan, tropical storm Etau approached Tokyo and the country's central region Tuesday, hours after a 6.5-magnitude earthquake shook the area.

Japanese officials have warned the heavy rains could cause landslides.

With files from The Associated Press