Typhoons' destructive wake tests Taiwan, China, Japan

Two earthquakes – in Japan and the Indian Ocean – added to the punishing weather striking East Asia.

Li Xiaohong/Xinhua/AP
Vendors drain water out of their shop in Ningguo City, in east China's Anhui Province, on Tuesday, after flooding from Typhoon Morakot.

Nature continued to pummel East Asia Tuesday as two large earthquakes struck in the wake of Typhoons Morakot and Etau, which left a trail of devastation across Taiwan, China, and Japan over the weekend. At least 70 people are now confirmed dead from the storms and as many as 500 more are feared dead after a mudslide destroyed an isolated village in southern Taiwan.

One person was killed by a 6.5-magnitude earthquake in Japan, and authorities have warned that more landslides are possible in the quake-hit areas. None were reported injured in a larger quake that struck in the Indian Ocean.

Typhoon Morakot, nearly 1,000 miles wide, unleashed the worst flooding in Taiwan in 50 years over the weekend, destroying thousands of homes and spurring landslides across East Asia. Taiwan’s National Fire Agency said Tuesday that as many as 500 people may have been killed in Shao Lin when a mudslide buried the village. Taiwan News reports that Shao Lin had 1,300 inhabitants, but it was unclear how many were in the village when the landslide hit.

Rescue efforts were complicated because floodwaters destroyed a bridge and covered roads near the isolated village, but the Associated Press reported that Taiwan's military rescued about 300 people by helicopter Tuesday from Shao Lin and surrounding villages. Those rescued were able to run to high ground when the mudslide hit. The tragedy was compounded, however, when one helicopter involved in the rescue effort crashed into a mountainside. The three occupants are missing.

In the rest of Taiwan, officials said 50 people are now confirmed dead and 58 people are listed as missing.

In China, the state-run news agency Xinhua reports that the death toll from Morakot has risen to six, while three are missing. Authorities relocated 1.4 million people before the storm hit, but Xinhua reports it destroyed more than 6,000 homes and caused $1.3 billion in damage.

The quake that shook Japan early Tuesday morning came in the wake of Typhoon Etau, which caused floods and landslides that killed at least 14 people; 18 are missing, according to Agence France-Presse. The quake, which was centered 155 kilometers (96 miles) southwest of Tokyo, injured 52 people in addition to killing one, reported Bloomberg. Japan's weather agency warned that in the quake-hit areas, the soaked earth could collapse in more landslides.

Also on Tuesday, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck in the Indian Ocean, about 160 miles north of Port Blair in the Andaman Islands. No one was reported injured, and a tsunami watch that was issued has been lifted.

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