Taiwan is still counting the cost of Typhoon Morakot, the worst in half a century, but at least the death toll has been slashed with the near-miraculous survival of 700 people who were feared dead in a huge mudslide yesterday.
It wiped out the village of Hsiao Lin and several others in the south of the island, and all its inhabitants were feared lost. However rescuers found them this morning and have begun airlifing them food and other supplies until communications links can be restored. However many people are still reported missing around the country and the offical death toll of 63 could rise as the authorities reach more isolated areas. The skies have been full of helicopters flying the most vulnerable and injured to safety, but the devastated transport network is making rescuers’ job extremely difficult. Rivers are in full spate, and crossings are being improvised, but it is still a risky business reaching higher ground. Once safe, people are facing up to the fact that much of everything they knew has been swept away forever. The financial cost of the typhoon continues to rise, now estimated at nearly one and a half billion dollars. A further 61 people are missing.