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Flood kills 19, traps 10,000 in Taiwan
Updated: 2004-07-05 16:30

Rescuers battled Monday against Taiwan's worst floods in 25 years, which have killed at least 19 people and stranded 10,000 villagers without fresh water and electricity in mountainous areas, officials said.

Some 200 engineers and workers at five hydroelectric plants also were stranded by raging floodwaters and mudslides, the disaster relief center said.

Tropical storm Mindulle pounded Taiwan with rains that sparked disastrous flooding after hitting the Philippines, where it killed at least 32 people and left 11 others missing.

In Taiwan, 19 people have been kiled and nine others are missing and feared dead.

Heavy rains may batter central and southern Taiwan until Wednesday, the weather bureau in Taiwan said.

In central Nantou County, more than 10,000 residents were trapped in nine villages in a mountainous region after roads and bridges were washed away. Many sought shelter at churches or public schools after their homes were destroyed by mudslides, officials said.

Operations are underway to rescue villagers and tourists trapped in the flood-devastated regions, officials said.

Helicopters hovered around the areas, but were unable to drop food and supplies because of bad weather conditions, a villager told the TVBS Cable News.

``We are running out of drinking water and milk for children,'' the villager said. ``We hope the skies could clear up later so the helicopters could land.''

An alert has been issued to warn 81 towns and villages to prepare for more flooding and mudslides. Many villages have already had fresh water and electricity supplies cut off.

``We've asked workers to do their best to restore power and water supplies,'' a government spokesman Chen Chi-mai said.

Several mountain areas recorded more than 1,100 millimeters (44 inches) of rain in the past three days, officials said.

The worst damage was reported in Taichung County, where five hydroelectric power plants were either flooded or covered by mudslides. About 200 engineers and other workers have been trapped in their dormitories since Saturday.

``I've worked here for more than 10 years, but I have never seen such a downpour before,'' the United Daily News quoted Chen Chih-cheng, a plant manager, as saying.

Damage at the five plants was estimated at 10 billion New Taiwan dollars (US$295 million). Crop and infrastructure damage are estimated at NT$1.4 billion (US$41 million).

Rainstorm, hailstone kill six in Shanxi

Six people died in rounds of rainstorm and hailstone attacks in parts of the northern province of Shanxi, causing a total economic loss of 400 million yuan (US$48 million), according to local civil affairs authorities.

Since the annual summer flooding season began, a total of 31 counties have been hit by rainstorm, hailstone and floods, according to the latest statistics from the provincial civil affairs bureau.

The hailstone, the biggest of the size of an egg, brought serious damages to humans, animals, crops and houses, bureau officials said. The longest rainstorm-hailstone strike lasted about 40 minutes, ruining almost everything on the ground.

Some 660,000 people were affected by the disasters, of whom six have died and 17 injured. About 100,000 hectares of farmland were damaged, of which 8,900 hectares became yieldless. The disasters also damaged over 2,000 houses.

Civil authorities have distributed food, clothes, drinking water, medicine and tents to victims.

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