Taiwan mudslide leaves hundreds missing

As many as 600 people are unaccounted for in Taiwan after a mudslide caused by Typhoon Morakot struck a mountain village, a police official and a villager said Monday.

Morakot downgraded to tropical storm

In this television image broadcast by ETTV Sunday, a six-storey hotel in Taiwan collapses and plunges into a river after flood waters eroded its base. ((ETTV Television/Associated Press))

As many as 600 people are unaccounted for in Taiwan after a mudslide caused by Typhoon Morakot struck a mountain village, a police official and a villager said Monday.

Morakot dumped about two metres of rain on some communities in Taiwan over the weekend before moving on to China, where it forced the evacuation of nearly one million people from coastal areas.

Medical personnel evacuate children by a military helicopter on Monday from a village struck by a landslide when Typhoon Morakot swept southern Taiwan. ((Reuters))

A Taiwanese police official who identified himself by his surname, Wang, told The Associated Press that about 100 people were rescued from a mudslide in Shiao Lin on Sunday. At least 400 people are believed to still be trapped in the area, the official said.

Meanwhile, one of the rescued villagers, Lin Chien-chung, told United Evening News that he believed at least 600 people were still buried in the mud.

"The mudslide covered a large part of the village including a primary school and many homes," he said. "A part of the mountain above us just fell on the village."

The village remained cut off on Monday by flood waters and destroyed roads and bridges.

Military helicopters dropped provisions into the area and were working to rescue survivors.

Continuing bad weather was preventing the helicopters from landing, said official Yang Chiu-hsing.

Taiwan is currently reporting that 14 people died from Morakot and 51 are officially listed as missing.

22 dead in Philippines

The storm is also believed to have left at least 22 dead in the Philippines. Officials said 18 people were injured and four people are missing, including three European tourists who were swept away.

Paramilitary policemen drive a boat in a flooded village in Cangnan County in eastern China on Sunday. ((Associated Press))

Morakot has now been downgraded to a tropical storm. The China Meteorological Administration reported that as of early Monday, the storm continued to pack winds of about 83 km/h.

When the typhoon slammed into China's Fujian province on Sunday it was carrying heavy rain and winds up to 119 km/h, according to the meteorological administration.

In China, the storm flooded hundreds of villages and towns and caused more than 2,000 houses to collapse, according to the state news agency. Officials said the storm had killed six people and left three missing in China.

Morakot is the first typhoon to hit the area this year. Typhoons frequently move in between July and September, often causing injuries and deaths in mountainous regions prone to landslides and flash floods.

Meanwhile in Japan, Typhoon Etau slammed into the west coast Monday killing at least 12 people in Hyogo prefecture, about 500 kilometres west of Tokyo, according to officials.

About 2,200 people have been evacuated from their homes in the region and 500 homes were flooded.

Many people are believed to have been caught in the raging waters and at least 10 people have been officially reported as missing, according to police.

With files from The Associated Press