Typhoon Megi triggers rockslides in Taiwan

Updated: 2010-10-22 15:01
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TAIPEI - Taiwan dispatched helicopters Friday to rescue hundreds of tourists trapped on a coastal highway by massive rockslides unleashed by the torrential rains of Typhoon Megi.

Typhoon Megi triggers rockslides in Taiwan
Part of a damaged road linking Su-ao and Hualien is seen following pounding of rainstorms brought by Typhoon Megi in Yilan county, Taiwan, Oct 22, 2010. [Photo/Xinhua]

The storm, which killed 26 people and wreaked havoc when it crossed the northern Philippines earlier this week, has dumped a record 106 cm (42 inches) of rain in notheastern Taiwan as it makes its way toward China's southeastern coast with winds above 160 kph (100 mph).

The helicopters were headed to a scenic highway in Yilan county on the island's northeastern coast where the travelers, including about 200 tourists from the Chinese mainland, were trapped in their vehicles but safe.

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Three cars had tumbled into a valley but the occupants escaped injury, he said.

Soldiers were at the scene with earth-moving equipment but deep mud was hampering rescue efforts, "defense minister" Kao Hua-chu said.

The mudslides had trapped about 30 vans, buses and private cars late Thursday, officials said. One of the vans was hit by a huge rock, local TV stations reported, but the 16 mainland tourists inside escaped with no major injuries.

Megi was generating winds of 165 kph (102 mph) and was about 450 kilometers (280 miles) southeast of Hong Kong on Friday morning, the Hong Kong Observatory said.

Megi dumped heavy rains throughout Taiwan, but Yilan, about 150 kilometers (90 miles) southeast of Taipei, was the hardest hit. Authorities said more than 2,500 villagers had been evacuated the past two days when rains inundated much of the county.

In Hong Kong, the main port remained partially shut down. Leading port operator Hong Kong International Terminals has stopped processing containers but may reopen its terminals later Friday, a company spokesman said.

Megi is predicted to make landfall in South China's Guangdong province Saturday or Sunday, when it is expected to have winds of 145 kph (90 mph) and then further weaken into a tropical storm as it moves inland, according to the observatory.

An official in Guangdong's Shantou city said fishermen were told to return to ports and authorities have designated some 200 buildings in the city as emergency shelters.

"This kind of strong typhoon is very rare for this season in Shantou. We are treating it as a 'super strong typhoon' and making our preparations accordingly," said a relief official surnamed Chen.

Typhoon Megi triggers rockslides in Taiwan
A rescue truck runs on a damaged road in Yilan county of Taiwan, Oct 22, 2010. [Photo/Xinhua]

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