Troops are airlifting survivors and cutting roads through deluged areas amid mounting public alarm over the fate of the missing. So far, 108 people have been confirmed to have died in the country’s worst flooding in five decades, and several hundred more remain unaccounted for.
Another 4,000 troops have been deployed, bolstering a 16,000-strong contingency. Some villagers reportedly used their bare hands to try to dig out survivors from homes buried by landslides.
President Ma Ying-jeou said the US, Japan, China, and Singapore had offered financial help. The government has appealed for overseas equipment to aid the rescue effort, including helicopters and gravel trucks.
The destruction of roads and bridges, coupled with swollen rivers and more downpours, have hampered relief efforts in southern Taiwan, where Typhoon Morakot struck last weekend. The tropical storm also left a trail of destruction in the Philippines and China. Click here to see a graphic illustrating the amount of rainfall Morakot dumped on Taiwan.
Taiwan's Interior Ministry said nearly 14,000 people had been evacuated. Military helicopters continue to scour the mountains and have dropped food and medicine in some villages. Soldiers have also trekked into the mountains to reach cut-off communities.
Criticism of the government’s response to the disaster has grown. Mr. Ma was confronted Thursday by relatives of affected villagers who said that the government wasn’t acting swiftly enough. People have tried to push onto helicopters heading to the disaster zone.
Some of the affected areas are popular hot-springs resorts. Other villages are populated by members of Taiwan’s indigenous minority groups. Government officials have warned that lakes created by the floodwaters may be unstable and could pose a further risk to villages spared by the initial typhoon onslaught.