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More Than 1,000 Taiwanese Villagers Rescued in Typhoon Aftermath



Taiwan officials say hundreds of people have been airlifted from remote mountainous areas on the island, where mudslides brought on by Typhoon Morakot have left many stranded for days. The storm killed more than 60 people on Taiwan and the fate of hundreds in a village that was wiped by a mudslide is still not known.

Taiwan disaster officials say it is unclear just how many people are still stranded.

Lin Kuan-cheng, an official at Taiwan's disaster relief agency, says that while persistent rains are slowing rescue efforts, the number of those escorted to safety continues to rise.

Lin says that in addition to rescuers who are moving in on the ground, helicopters are also flying in and they have already rescued more than 1,000 people.

An army official says about 200 residents have been airlifted from Shiao Lin, a remote village in the mountains of southern Kaohsiung County. Shiao Lin was wiped out by a mudslide triggered by Typhoon Morakot on Sunday.

Officials say they still do not know how many of its residents were buried alive.

Some residents are incensed by what they say is the slow pace of the rescue effort.

One relative of a Shiao Lin resident wishes the government would do more to speed up rescue work.

This person says the rescue team should have started on the first day, and worries that rescue workers missed the golden 72 hours after the mudslide hit.

Taiwan media have been venting public frustration with the pace of rescue efforts since shortly after Typhoon Morakot slammed into the island.

Criticism of Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou has been building, with some accusing him of not having enough sympathy for the storm's victims.

Mr. Ma met with anxious relatives in Taiwan's eastern Taitung County on Wednesday to show his support. He also defended the government's efforts.

Mr. Ma says the public is not very clear on the protocols that have been put in place to handle the disaster. He says that his government's response has been broad and flexible.

Taiwan's Control Yuan, an agency that supervises government decisions, says it will investigate the government's response to the storm.

Typhoon Morakot battered Taiwan last Friday and Saturday, before going on to China.

The storm killed at least eight people in mainland China, and damaged or destroyed about 10,000 homes. China's government estimates the storm caused losses of $1.4 billion.

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