super typhoon 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Taiwan — Taiwanese rescuers searching mountainsides hit by massive mudslides unleashed by Typhoon Megi found mangled parts of a vehicle thought to be a bus that was carrying 19 missing Chinese tourists, the transport minister said Saturday.
RELATED:Residents in southern China brace for super typhoon Megi
Landslides caused by the typhoon killed nine people and buried a Buddhist temple in hardest-hit Ilan county in the northeast, where a record 45 inches (114 centimeters) of rain fell over 48 hours. Three other people drowned in their flooded homes, the Central Emergency Operations Center said. A total of 23 people were missing.
Megi, which earlier killed 26 people in the Philippines, pounded southern China's Fujian province on Saturday after leaving Taiwan but was downgraded to a strong tropical storm with winds of up to 67 mph (108 kph). TV news showed flooded streets, uprooted trees and swollen waterways, but there were no immediate reports of major damage.
Taiwanese Transport Minister Mao Chih-kuo said rescuers found the vehicle parts in a deep valley next to a coastal highway.
"The bus was covered all over by thick mud," Mao said.
Next to the vehicle was the wreckage of another bus crushed by a huge
boulder, but Chinese tourists on that bus were able to escape, Mao
Several buses carrying Chinese tourists were on a six-mile
(10-kilometer) stretch of the Ilan coastal highway that was hit by at
least seven rockslides Thursday night. A 500-yard (500-meter) stretch of
the highway collapsed.
Nineteen Chinese who were rescued from another bus told reporters that
their Taiwanese driver and Chinese tour guide helped them get to safety,
but a boulder then crushed the bus and sent them down a valley with the
The rockslides trapped 30 buses, cars and vans, stranding a total of 400
people. All other stranded travelers had been rescued by early
Saturday, Interior Minister Chiang Yi-hua said.
In China, the storm forced the cancellation of nearly 80 flights at the
airport in Fujian's Xiamen city. Authorities evacuated 272,300 people
from villages, according to the provincial water resources department.
News footage from Fujian showed waves crashing on the shore amid steady
rain, and residents used ropes to secure street lamps and other objects
that could be blown away by the wind. Workers tied down large boats in
the Zhangpu port.
Earlier, Megi killed more than two dozen people and damaged thousands of
homes in the northern Philippines. The storm also forced 55,000
Filipinos from their homes and caused about $175 million in damage to
infrastructure and crops, disaster officials said.
In Vietnam, the death toll from severe flooding in four central
provinces climbed to 75, including 14 victims from a bus swept off a
road by strong currents, with six passengers still missing, disaster
officials said Friday.
While Megi bypassed Vietnam, the country's central region was pummeled
by 4.6 feet (140 centimeters) of rain over the past week, inundating
large swaths of land, submerging nearly 280,000 houses and forcing more
than 170,000 villagers from their homes.
In Thailand, the government said the death toll from heavy flooding rose
to 23 with some 1.3 million people affected in 30 provinces in the
north, east, northeast and central regions.
Meanwhile, another storm, Cyclone Giri, was spinning in the Bay of
Bengal and likely to make landfall Saturday in western Myanmar. The
storm was expected to hit with winds of 75 mph (120 kph) and a tidal
surge as high as 12 feet (370 centimeters).