Typhoon Kalmaegi leaves at least five dead in Taiwan

July 18th, 2008 - 7:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Taipei, July 18 (DPA) Typhoon Kalmaegi caused severe destruction in Taiwan, leaving at least five people dead and several missing as it moved towards China Friday. An army officer slipped into a ditch and died while inspecting the barracks in Taichung county, press reports said.

In Tainan County, a boy and a girl were buried alive when a house collapsed, while a couple drowned when they fell from a rescue boat into a flooded river.

The death toll was expected to rise because several people swept away by flood water were still listed as missing.

President Ma Ying-jeou cut short his physical checkup at a Taipei hospital to visit the disaster centre in Hsintien, near Taipei, to coordinate rescue efforts and assess typhoon-caused damages.

According to the Council of Agriculture, Typhoon Kalmaegi caused losses of $100 million Taiwan dollars (about $3.3 million) as about 1,000 hectares of crops and orchards were inundated.

Kalmaegi began to approach southeast Taiwan Wednesday and moved up north along the east coast, dumping 400 to 1,000 mm of rain on southern and central Taiwan.

The downpour, said to be the worst in a decade, caused landslides and flooding in mountainous regions in central and south Taiwan and left some city streets flooded knee-deep.

The eye of the storm crossed the northern tip of Taiwan Friday morning, moving towards China’s Fujian province.

Moving at 19 km per hour, the typhoon packed winds of 83 km per hour and gusts of 108 km per hour, the Central Weather Bureau said.

Kalmaegi was expected to make landfall on China’s Fujian coast Friday night.

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