Eleven dead as tropical storm pounds Taiwan

Eleven people including a baby girl have been killed and three more are missing in Taiwan as Tropical Storm Kalmaegi brought strong winds and heavy downpours, rescuers said on Friday.

The one-year-old girl and her teenage uncle were killed when their house in the southern county of Kaohsiung was hit by a mudslide, the National Fire Agency said.

The girl’s pregnant mother was lightly injured and has been airlifted to safety with her husband.

“It happened so fast … I didn’t have time to save them,” the husband told ERA News.

In central Taichung, an army captain fell into a gutter in his barracks amid bad weather and drowned, the fire agency said.

One couple died when the boat they were being rescued in capsized, it said.

Rescuers have evacuated about 80 people trapped by mudslides or floods in the worst-hit central and southern Taiwan, where electricity and water supplies in hundreds of thousands of households were affected.

Television footage showed residents battling rising floods and some roads were blocked or damaged by heavy rain.

Kalmaegi also ravaged fields and farms, causing an estimated 111-million Taiwan dollars (US$3,65-million) in damage, the government said.

The storm was 70 kilometres north of Matsu Island at 11.15am GMT, packing winds of up to 83km/h, the weather bureau said.

Kalmaegi was downgraded from a typhoon to a tropical storm as it bore down the east coast on Thursday night, the bureau said.

Offices and schools in several central counties were shut while about 3 600 fishermen sought shelter at ports, authorities said.

The storm also disrupted land and air traffic. Many rail services were cancelled and nearly 20 local and international flights were suspended or delayed. — AFP

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