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Typhoon Morakot blasts China and Taiwan

Japan, meanwhile, may deploy the military to deal with the deadly impact of tropical storm Etau.

By Correspondent / August 10, 2009

A resident makes his way across flooded streets on a makeshift raft after typhoon Morakot battered China's commercial east coast on Sunday.

Lang Lang/Reuters

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BEIJING – Typhoon season has begun in earnest in East Asia, dealing deadly blows to Taiwan, Japan, and China.

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The largest toll appears to be in southern Taiwan, where mudslides and floods over the weekend have left hundreds dead or missing. A resident evacuated from a remote mountain town in the south said that his entire village had been engulfed by a mudslide. A military helicopter earlier rescued about 100 people from the village, according to police.

Taiwan’s official death toll is 14, with another 51 missing. That number, however, excludes the village covered by the mudslide, which appears to be cut off from outside help. The flooding is described as the worst in 50 years in Taiwan, a country that sees more than its fair share of natural disasters, including earthquakes.

A dramatic scene unfolded in eastern Taiwan on Sunday when a six-story hotel crumbled into a swollen river after floodwaters weakened its foundations. The guests had already been removed from the hotel a day earlier.

On Sunday, Typhoon Morakot moved west into China, sweeping across the coastal provinces of Fujian, Jiangxi, and Zhejiang. In advance of the storm, authorities in the provinces evacuated more than 1 million people. Three people died and thousands of houses were destroyed, with damages estimated at nearly $900 million.

You can watch footage of Typhoon Morakot's impact in Taiwan, as well as its move into China, here.

Last week, the typhoon slammed into the Philippines, leaving more devastation in its wake. On Monday, China said it had reduced in strength as it moved inland, heading northwest, the normal trajectory for a tropical storm.

Japan is battling a separate weather event. Tropical storm Etau swept through western Japan starting Sunday and is predicted to hit densely populated central Japan on Tuesday. The government said at least 13 people had died and another 10 were missing. Japan’s military may now be deployed in the worst-hit areas.

None of which comes as much surprise to authorities here, as typhoon season heralds perilous storms in coastal East Asia every year. Preparations had been made ahead of the heavy rains, high tides, and battering winds, but even countries like Japan that invest heavily in disaster relief services and mitigation know that nature can be resisted but not tamed.

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