Typhoon Morakot Damage Extensive, Report Says

NU Online News Service, Aug. 10, 12:30 p.m. EDT

The typhoon which hit Taiwan Friday left at least 14 dead, destroyed hundreds of homes, brought down bridges, toppled a hotel and did more than $100 million in crop damage, Guy Carpenter reported.

Meanwhile, Japan is being menaced by Tropical Storm Etau. Boston-based catastrophe modeling firm Air Worldwide said the storm is approaching the coast near Tokyo.

A CAT-i report from the Guy Carpenter brokerage's Instrat unit said Typhoon Morakot arrived in Hualien County in central Taiwan as a Category 1 typhoon with sustained winds of around 92 mph triggering the worst flooding in 50 years in some parts of the islands.

Morakot was so large it encompassed the entire island, dumping a record 100 inches of rainfall over parts of the island and forcing the government to deploy the military to rescue stranded residents, said Instrat.

The firm reported rescue teams are still searching for more than 50 people registered as missing. In addition to the dead and missing, another 32 people were injured.

Morakot tracked west-northwest over Taiwan and weakened into a tropical storm before hitting China yesterday where its torrential rains were reported to have collapsed thousands of homes.

In Taiwan, widespread floods and mudslides disrupted road and rail traffic, cut off power and water supplies, and brought down bridges across the country, Instrat reported.

More than 900,000 properties were said to have lost power across the island and 850,000 homes were without water, according to Instrat.

Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau described the flooding in Pingtung and Taitung as the worst since 1959, when a typhoon hit the island and killed more than 600 people.

Instrat noted reports that said tens of thousands of people were cut off in the counties of Pingtung, Tainan and Chiayi as floodwaters reached 7 feet deep in places.

In Chihpen (Taitung County), one of Taiwan's most famous hot spring resorts, the six-story Jinshuai riverbank hotel, collapsed after floodwaters undermined its foundations. Staff and guests were evacuated before it toppled over.

The Central Disaster Emergency Operation Center said a total of 6,300 people were evacuated from their homes in Taiwan.

Armored vehicles and marine landing craft, as well as rubber dinghies, were mobilized in a rescue operation involving at least 1,200 troops, the defense ministry said.

Taiwan officials estimated agricultural damage amounting to at least 4.2 billion Taiwan dollars (U.S. $130 million). AIR Worldwide said 130 square miles of cropland had been flooded.

Local television reported that 200 homes in the village of Hsiaolin were believed to have been destroyed in a mudslide and there were reports up to 200 people could have been buried by the mud.

In the southern county of Pingtung, thousands of people were trapped in three coastal townships while a bridge collapsed in Kaohsiung County, cutting off road access to 1,300 residents. In total, officials estimated that 20 bridges were either damaged or washed away.

After hitting Taiwan, Morakot crossed the Taiwan Strait and made landfall in the Chinese province of Fujian yesterday as a tropical storm, lashing cities in the region with heavy rain and winds of up to 50 mph, weather officials said.


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