13 Aug 2009

Taiwan appeals for help to rescue typhoon victims

8:52 pm on 13 August 2009

Taiwan has appealed for international technical assistance to help rescue more than 2,000 people stranded after Typhoon Morakot caused major mudslides.

Authorities in Taiwan say they need giant cargo aircraft able to drop large earth diggers and other machinery into remote mountain areas to re-open roads.

The BBC reports only Russia and the United States are believed to have such aircraft.

Relatives of those stranded and of the hundreds feared dead have urged the government to speed up rescue efforts.

Many have been waiting for days at the rescue operation centre in Qishan for news of family members missing since the typhoon struck over the weekend.

Hundreds of people feared buried by mudslides in the south of the country have been found alive.

But Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou - who visited Qishan on Wednesday - said hundreds more were likely to have died. The number of confirmed dead stands at 108.

The government is sending more than 4,000 extra soldiers to speed up rescue efforts.