CISHAN, Taiwan — Taiwan's military airlifted survivors from remote mountain villages devastated by mudslides triggered by last weekend's typhoon, and announced today it was sending another 4,000 soldiers to help with the rescue effort.
The new troops will join the more than 10,000 soldiers already racing to save thousands of survivors stranded in several villages in the island's south, the Defense Ministry said in a statement. Rescue efforts have been slow because many bridges and roads to hard-hit villages collapsed or were washed out by raging floodwaters.
Typhoon Morakot struck Taiwan over the weekend, dumping more than 80 inches of rain and unleashing the most devastating floods that the island has seen in 50 years. The official death toll in Taiwan stands at 108, with 61 listed as missing. But several hundred more — nobody is sure how many — remain unaccounted for and are feared lost in the mudslides.
The storm — Morakot means "emerald" in the Thai language — also killed 22 people in the Philippines and eight in China.
The rains halted today, permitting army helicopters in southern Taiwan to ferry scores of survivors from the remains of their villages to an improvised landing strip in the town of Cishan.
The military has reported that it had traced some 1,000 villagers from the worst-hit village of Shiao Lin and two other stricken communities in the past two days.
So far at least 300 of them have been airlifted to safety, said spokesman for relief operations Col. Chang Kuo-bin.