(AFP) – Jul 18, 2008
TAIPEI (AFP) — Thousands of workers continued search and rescue operations on Saturday after Tropical Storm Kalmaegi wreaked havoc across Taiwan, leaving 13 dead and eight missing, officials said.
The casualties from floods or mudslides were reported in worst-hit central and southern Taiwan, where up to 950 millimetres (37 inches) of rain fell in less than two days, said the National Fire Agency.
Nearly 60,000 government and civilian rescuers have been mobilised to combat floods and on rescue missions, with 87 people evacuated to safety, the agency said.
But eight people, believed to have been washed away by floods or buried alive, remained missing while eight others were injured, it said.
Meanwhile, the Central Weather Bureau has come under criticism for underestimating the impact of Kalmaegi, downgrading it from a typhoon to a tropical storm late Thursday.
"In a weather forecast the margin of error is inevitable," the bureau's weather forecast centre director Wu Teh-rung told reporters.
The bureau urged residents in central and southern Taiwan to guard against further downpours although the storm was moving towards the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian.
Kalmaegi also ravaged fields and farms, causing an estimated 316 million Taiwan dollars (10 million US) in damage, the government said.
Television footage showed swollen rivers and flooded streets in various parts of the island as the storm disrupted traffic, electricity and water services.
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