Taiwan’s government mobilised troops Sunday to rescue tens of thousands of residents trapped in the island’s worst flooding in 50 years, which left one person dead and at least 29 missing, officials said.
Typhoon Morakot pounded Taiwan over the weekend with powerful winds and torrential rain.
The number of people listed as missing and feared dead went up from eight to 29, the government’s National Fire Agency said.
Morakot had dumped a record 2,500 millimetres (100 inches) of rain on the southern county of Pingtung by early Sunday, flooding at least three coastal townships, the government said.
At least 10,000 people were trapped in flooded areas of the county, Pingtung deputy magistrate Chung Chia-pin said.
Tens of thousands of other people were also trapped in the counties of Tainan and Chiayi, forcing authorities to deploy the military.
More than 60 armoured vehicles and marine landing craft, as well as 50 rubber dinghies, were mobilised in a rescue operation involving at least 1,200 troops, the defence ministry said.
The troops were distributing food and drinking water to residents affected by the flooding, which in some places had gone as high as the first storey of buildings.
“This is the worst flooding in Chiayi in 50 years,” county magistrate Chen Ming-wen told reporters. A typhoon in August 1959 killed 667 people and left some 1,000 missing.
“We need more rubber dinghies and water pumps,” Chen said.
Morakot made landfall around midnight Friday in the eastern county of Hualien, unleashing powerful winds that swayed high-rise buildings, turned over cars and uprooted trees and road signs.
The typhoon has caused at least 832 million Taiwan dollars (26 million US) in agricultural damage and temporarily cut electricity to more than one million households, officials said.