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Taiwan Rescue Workers Find Bus Buried in Mudslide

A tour bus is seen engulfed by a land slide caused by heavy rains from passing Typhoon Megi on the coast highway in Ilan county, north eastern Taiwan, 23 Oct 2010

Rescue workers in Taiwan searching a mountainside hit by massive mudslides caused by Typhoon Megi have found mangled parts of a vehicle they think is the bus that was carrying 19 missing Chinese tourists.

Taiwanese officials on Saturday said the bus was covered by thick mud. Military personnel found the front bumper and were attempting to dig out the wreckage from the landslide. There was no word on the fate of the passengers.

Chinese tourists on a second bus that was crushed by a huge boulder managed to escape by smashing the windows of the coach.

Overall, Taiwanese officials said at least 23 people remained unaccounted for.

As the Taiwan rescue operation continued, the weakened storm hit the Chinese mainland. It was downgraded to a strong tropical storm with maximum winds of 108 kilometers per hour and was expected to weaken further as it heads northwest through the Chinese interior.

Several buses carrying Chinese tourists were on a 10-kilometer stretch of Taiwan's Ilan coastal highway that was hit by rockslides on Thursday night. A 500-meter stretch of the highway collapsed, stranding 400 people. All had been rescued by Saturday.

Before hitting Taiwan, Megi killed at least 28 people in the Philippines. Disaster officials said more than 100,000 houses were damaged by the storm, causing $190 million in damage to buildings and crops.

Other storms in Southeast Asia in the last week have also caused massive flooding. The Associated Press said the death toll has reached 75 in Vietnam and 23 in Thailand.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.