The number of people killed in Taiwan by Typhoon Morakot, a destructive storm that swept through East Asia last week, could triple because hundreds of people are feared trapped under mudslides, the president’s office said Friday. The official toll from the typhoon was 118 but could jump to more than 300, with as many as 200 feared buried under five stories of mud in the badly-hit village of Shiao Lin, presidential spokesman Wang Yuchi said.
Torrential downpours, dense fog, rugged terrain and raging rivers have made rescue efforts in Taiwan increasingly difficult and dangerous in the wake of Typhoon Morakot. Washed out roads and bridges rendered ground rescue operations virtually impossible as workers searched Thursday for stranded villagers in the central and southern regions of the island.
Hundreds of people were stranded on Wednesday in villages dotting Taiwan’s mountainous regions after Typhoon Morakot unleashed its fury over the weekend and caused the worst flooding in a half-century. Morakot dumped 83 inches (2.1 meters) of rain on parts of the island, unleashing the worst flooding there in half a century, according to the U.S.