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Taiwan remembers 700 killed on typhoon anniversary

by Staff Writers
Taipei (AFP) Aug 8, 2010
Taiwan paid tribute on Sunday to more than 700 people killed or missing in Typhoon Morakot a year ago, one of the island's worst natural disasters.

The typhoon slammed into Taiwan in August 2009, bringing powerful winds and torrential rain that left at least 614 people dead and 75 missing, including an estimated 400 buried in the village of Hsiaolin alone.

Typhoon Morakot dumped a record three metres (120 inches) of rain and some experts have since warned that global warming could trigger another similarly powerful storm in a year or two.

President Ma Ying-jeou attended an evening memorial service in Shanlin, a remote township in southern Kaohsiung county, to commemorate the victims from Hsiaolin.

More than 300 Hsiaolin villagers who escaped the disaster have been resettled in Shanlin.

"Last year's Morakot brought Taiwan the worst flooding in 100 years and caused havoc... the unusual torrential rains were a signal of climate change," Vice President Vincent Siew said at a ceremony in Taipei earlier in the day.

While the opposition blamed the Ma administration for what they alleged was a slow response to the flooding, Ma has termed the typhoon a "painful lesson" and is now introducing a tough new planning law.

Over the past year, the authorities have built 1,480 new houses accommodating nearly 6,000 people, according to a cabinet statement.

But the homeless -- most of them aboriginals -- remain unhappy at the government moves. About 500 indigenous villagers staged a rally outside the presidential office Saturday in protest at the resettlement plans.

The government faced a wave of public anger over its handling of the disaster, plunging Ma into his worst political crisis since taking office in 2008.

His approval rating plummeted to 16 percent in the aftermath of the typhoon, compared with an all-time high of 79 percent in the days after his election victory in March 2008.

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Taiwan aborigines protest resettlement after deadly typhoon
Taipei (AFP) Aug 7, 2010
Hundreds of Taiwanese indigenous villagers staged a protest on Saturday against the government's resettlement plans ahead of the one-year anniversary of a deadly typhoon. "Guard the homeland" and "oppose forced resettlement", shouted the protesters, from central and southern Taiwan, as they gathered in a square leading to the presidential office in the capital Taipei. "We are forced to ... read more

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