17 Aug 2009

Taiwan seeks foreign aid after typhoon disaster

3:02 pm on 17 August 2009

Taiwan's government has accepted foreign aid in the aftermath of the devastating typhoon that hit last weekend, after earlier refusing the offers.

The official death toll from Typhoon Morakot is 123. Hundreds more are feared buried in a massive landslide in the worst hit village, Hsiao Lin.

The foreign ministry has approached Japan, the United States and European countries for supplies such as large helicopters and mobile homes.

Six countries, including China and the United States, have pledged aid, including expert damage assessment and water filtration tools.

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, pressured by the public over his response to the typhoon damage, on Friday estimated the eventual death toll at more than 500, mostly people feared buried in the Hsaio Lin landslide.

Survivors and Taiwan's main opposition party have accused Mr Ma of responding too slowly to the typhoon that hit last weekend, the island's worst since 1959.

The president, touring a disaster area in central Taiwan, apologised on Saturday for the slow government response.

More than 35,000 people from disaster areas in southern Taiwan have been rescued, according to the National Fire Agency.

The typhoon has caused extensive agricultural losses and damaged more than 250 sections of road, requiring years to repair.