11 Aug 2009

Killer landslides caused by Asia typhoon's wake

4:14 pm on 11 August 2009

At least six apartment blocks have collapsed following landslides in eastern China, trapping an unknown number of people, and hundreds are feared dead in Taiwan after a mudslide buried a small village.

The landslides were triggered by heavy rains caused by Typhoon Morakot, which has swept across parts of East Asia.

Chinese officials say they have managed to pull six people alive from the rubble in the town of Pengxi in Zhejiang province on Tuesday.

A witness told Chinese television it took "one second" for the mud and rocks to engulf the four-storey apartment buildings.

Six or seven apartment blocks with an estimated 28 families in each are buried in the rubble and the death toll is expected to rise, the BBC reports.

State media agency Xinhua reports rescue operations are being hampered by the large amounts of debris that have fallen on them.

Morakot weakened to a tropical storm on Monday, but it has still been lashing south-eastern China with heavy rain.

More than one million people have been evacuated from their homes and six deaths have been reported - including four in Zhejiang province, and two others in Fujian and Jiangxi provinces.

Xinhua said hundreds of villages and towns had been flooded and more than 2,000 houses and buildings had collapsed.

Worst flooding for 50 years in Taiwan

Before ploughing into China, Typhoon Morakot dropped about 2 metres of rain on Taiwan at the weekend, causing the worst flooding in five decades.

Rescue operations resumed on Tuesday morning to find survivors from a mudslide in the south-western mountain village of Shiao Lin that buried about 600 people.

The BBC reports about 50 people have been rescued and another 150 found alive in another part of the village.

Helicopters were dropping food and trying to air-lift survivors from the village, where roads have been washed away, and power and water supplies cut.

Elsewhere in Taiwan, the number of confirmed deaths is 38, with dozens more injured and missing, officials said.

Morakot also dumped heavy rains in the north of the Philippines, killing at least 22 people last week.