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Myanmar cyclone leaves at least one dead, thousands affected

Megi downgraded to tropical depression
Beijing (AFP) Oct 24, 2010 - Torrential rain battered southwest China Sunday as Typhoon Megi was downgraded to a tropical depression after wreaking havoc in Taiwan and the Philippines. Megi, the strongest storm to hit the northwest Pacific in two decades, killed 36 people in the Philippines last week and left 12 dead and two dozen missing in Taiwan as it edged towards China. But it lost steam after making landfall in southwest China's Fujian province late Saturday night and China's state meteorological bureau downgraded it to a tropical depression early Sunday. Torrential rains were expected in Fujian and neighbouring Zhejiang province throughout the day, the bureau said. Taiwanese rescuers continued their search for 25 people left missing after Megi's heavy rains sparked widespread landslides along a coastal highway on the island. Emergency workers over the weekend dug up nine bodies buried under the debris of a temple swamped by mudslides, while two more were found in houses and one in a port in northeastern Ilan county, the National Fire Agency said. On Sunday, rescuers discovered the body of a woman at the site of a landside on the highway, a rescue official told reporters.
by Staff Writers
Yangon (AFP) Oct 23, 2010
A cyclone that pounded western Myanmar killed at least one person, an official said Saturday, as news of the havoc wrought by the storm began to emerge, with tens of thousands needing help.

Cyclone Giri raged onto the coast of Rakhine state with winds of up to 193 kilometres per hour (119 miles per hour) on Friday, but was said to have since slowed to around 80 kph, state media said.

An official who did not want to be named confirmed one fatality had so far been reported.

"A woman in Minpyar town was killed when a tree collapsed during the cyclone and we have not heard of anything apart from this case," he said.

The coastal town of Kyaukphyu was the worst-hit, with the power cut off and the sea wall partly destroyed.

A Red Cross worker in Yangon estimated that about 70 percent of Kyaukphyu town was destroyed, with about 60,000 people in the district needing assistance, although the organisation had not heard of any deaths.

"Fishermen and people there have had time to move to safer places as disaster measures were already in place," he said.

"Our office in Kyaukphyu was destroyed by a falling tree... we have had problems getting transport and the latest data but are trying to reach the affected areas as soon as possible."

A resident in Sittwe, on the coast in western Rakhine, said winds of up to 128 kph tore through the area on Saturday evening, destroying houses on the outskirts of the town but leaving larger buildings standing.

"The authorities warned us with loudspeakers yesterday to prepare for the cyclone, so people had time to move safer places," he said.

On Friday the Meteorology office predicted sea levels could swell by as much as 3.7 metres (12 feet), but the Sittwe resident said there had been no tidal wave in his area.

After hitting the coast, the storm headed northeast through the central part of the country and is forecast to "abate into a moderate storm", the New Light of Myanmar newspaper said, quoting the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology.

In Yangon, people from Rakhine clubbed together to raise money to buy supplies for those in need.

"We were able to contact our families this morning and some people from Yangon will go there to try and help them. We will buy rice, drinking water and other necessary things," a member of the Rakhine community said.

Myanmar is frequently hit by tropical storms and in 2008 was battered by Cyclone Nargis, which left 138,000 people dead or missing, mostly in the southwest delta region.

Nargis unleashed winds of 240 kilometres an hour and storm surges up to four metres high, sweeping away thousands of homes, flooding rice fields with salt water and ravaging schools and hospitals.

Myanmar's military government faced international criticism for its response to the disaster. It was accused of blocking emergency aid and initially refusing to grant access to humanitarian workers and supplies.

earlier related report
Body found as Taiwan searches for typhoon missing
Taipei (AFP) Oct 24, 2010 - Taiwanese rescuers on Sunday discovered a body as they continued their search for 25 other people missing after landslides triggered by Typhoon Megi.

Megi, the strongest storm to hit the northwest Pacific in two decades, is now known to have killed at least 13 people in Taiwan on its way towards southeastern China.

Rescuers found the body of a woman at the site of a landslide along the highway, in northeastern Ilan county, a rescue official told reporters.

Emergency workers had already dug up nine bodies buried under the debris of a temple swamped by mudslides, while two more were found in houses and one in a port in Ilan, the National Fire Agency said.

Relatives later identified the victim found on Sunday as a teacher from a school for disabled children.

Rescuers and soldiers used sniffer dogs as they combed a coastal ravine where officials believe a bus carrying 21 people -- including 19 Chinese tourists -- might have been buried.

The military dispatched divers and helicopters to search the ocean nearby, where other officials suspected the bus might have plunged, while rescuers on the shore found some broken parts of the bus, television images showed.

Relatives of the missing from China's Guangdong Province arrived on the island on Sunday.

A Taiwanese bus driver, a Chinese tour guide and two locals also remain unaccounted for.

Megi made landfall on the Chinese mainland on Saturday afternoon, where meteorologists Sunday downgraded it to a tropical depression as it dumped torrential rain in coastal provinces.

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Seven dead in temple collapse as Typhoon Megi pounds Taiwan
Ilan, Taiwan (AFP) Oct 23, 2010
At least seven people died when a temple collapsed in Taiwan on Friday as torrential rains unleashed by Typhoon Megi triggered landslides that also left dozens missing and hundreds stranded. Megi, the strongest storm to hit the northwest Pacific in two decades, has already killed at least 36 people in the Philippines and was expected to make landfall early Saturday in Fujian province in sout ... read more

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