Taiwan sends in heavy equipment in search of typhoon missing
Ilan, Taiwan (AFP) Oct 26, 2010
Taiwan's military airlifted heavy equipment to a disaster zone in the north of the island Tuesday as rescuers stepped up their search for 24 people still missing five days after Typhoon Megi struck.
Television images showed an army helicopter taking off in pouring rain, transporting an excavator to a beach in Ilan county, where rescuers believe the missing may be buried.
The focus of the search was for 19 members of a tour group from China who went missing Thursday together with a Taiwanese bus driver and tour guide while driving along a coastal highway hit by landslides.
The bus has yet to be found and some investigators have suggested the vehicle may have plunged into the ocean from the highway, prompting navy and coastguard vessels as well as police helicopters to search waters off Ilan.
Relatives of the 19 tourists arrived late Monday from China and complained to authorities after rescuers briefed them on the search's progress.
"We feel that the authorities need to mobilise more people and heavy equipment to speed up the search," a female relative told reporters, as rain slowed down search efforts.
She added that they would not leave Taiwan without knowing the fate of their loved ones.
In a statement issued ahead of their departure for Taiwan, the relatives accused the Taiwanese tour operator of risking its clients' lives by ignoring the bad weather, local media said.
They demanded that Taiwanese authorities do their best to search for their loved ones, no matter whether their relatives were alive or dead.
The other three missing people still unaccounted for included a chicken farmer and his wife and a Chinese tour guide from a second bus.
Fingerprints from a mangled body discovered Monday -- Megi's 14th confirmed fatality -- identified the victim as the second bus's Taiwanese driver.
Emergency workers have recovered nine bodies from the debris of a temple swamped by mudslides, and four elsewhere, the National Fire Agency said.
Megi made landfall in mainland China on Saturday before being downgraded to a tropical depression on Sunday as it dumped torrential rain on coastal provinces.
earlier related report
The Typhoon is competition for the Indian air force's $10 billion medium multirole combat aircraft tender and the joint exercise marks the first time that the Indian air force will be afforded first-hand evaluation of the aircraft.
Typhoon's makers are in talks with a host of Indian firms to plug them into the Europe consortium's global supply chain, in a move which company officials and military analysts say could pave the way for a rash of lucrative deals.
The joint exercise, due to be concluded Nov. 3, opts to include combined maneuvers intended to help pilots improve their skills.
Emphasis will also be given to "exposing the controllers of AWACS aircraft to large-scale engagements and protection of high-value assets in addition to management of logistical needs," the Sify Web site reported.
It is an opportunity, Indian Air Marshal K.K. Nohwar was reported saying, "for both the air forces to get an insight into each others' operational philosophies and work cultures. This will greatly enhance the understanding of our air force to operate in scenario involving state-of-the-art technologies."
India announced plans recently to spend up to $30 billion on its military by 2012. Last week, it said it was locking in negotiations with Boeing, the second-largest U.S. defense contractor, which is hoping to bid for $31 billion worth of military contracts in India in the coming years.
A KPMG report estimates India's defense spending will swell even further, forecasting about $112 billion on defense procurement by 2016, creating offset opportunities worth $30 billion for the domestic industry.
Boeing will be competing against defense industry giants including Lockheed Martin and other suppliers for a string of orders set to sealed within the coming year.
Eurofighter Typhoon is competing with U.S. and Russian models to win a contract for 126 fighter jets estimated at about $11 billion. The Typhoon is co-produced by European firms that include EADS, BAE Systems and Finmeccanica.
Eurofighter has said that its plans to engage with Indian suppliers were independent of the 126 jet tender which is due to be decided on within the next six months.
"This demonstrates our commitment to integrating India into the program as a true and equal industrial partner," Bernhard Gerwert, chairman of the supervisory board of Eurofighter GmbH, told a group of journalists in New Delhi.
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