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Taiwan typhoon victims berate president

As survivors of Typhoon Morakot berated Taiwan's president on Wednesday, two more senior lawmakers in Taipei offered to resign over the government's slow response to the storm.
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou offers prayers at a makeshift memorial for victims of Typhoon Morakot during a visit to the destroyed village of Shiao Lin, in southern Taiwan, Wednesday. ((Associated Press))

As survivors of Typhoon Morakot berated Taiwan's president on Wednesday, two more senior lawmakers in Taipei offered to resign over the government's slow response to the storm.

The storm claimed at least 400 lives after it hit 12 days ago, causing more than $2 billion in property damage, and triggering landslides and widespread flooding that trapped thousands of people in remote mountain villages for days.

Angry relatives and friends of the more than 200 people who died in a massive mudslide in Shiao Lin confronted President Ma Ying-jeou when he visited the southern village for the first time Wednesday.

An unidentified woman screamed repeatedly in Ma's face, saying a government construction project had contributed to the disaster by weakening the foundations of several surrounding mountains.

Another Shiao Lin resident recalled comments Ma made on British television in which he appeared to blame the victims for their own fate, saying they did not flee storm-affected areas quickly enough.

Ma remained largely silent, but acknowledged "that the government could have done better in disaster prevention." He promised government aid to families of the victims, consoled grieving relatives and offered prayers for the dead.

Earlier Wednesday, Defence Minister Chen Chao-min and Cabinet Secretary-General Hsueh Hsiang-chuan submitted their resignations.

On Monday, Vice Foreign Minister Andrew Hsia offered his resignation because his ministry rejected material assistance and rescue teams from foreign countries in the first days after Morakot hit.

Premier Liu Chao-shiuan said the resignations would be considered within the framework of an overall cabinet shuffle next month.

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