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Deadly typhoon causes Taiwan's worst flooding in decades

  • Story Highlights
  • Report: 600 villagers buried in mudslide in southern Taiwan
  • Typhoon Morakot's winds clocked at 118 kilometers per hour (73 mph) in its eye
  • Nearly 1 million people evacuated from China's Fujian and Zhejiang provinces
  • Another typhoon hit west Japan on Monday, with 12 people confirmed dead
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BEIJING, China (CNN) -- A mudslide triggered by torrential rains may have buried up to 800 villagers in southern Taiwan, media reports said Monday, as the country counted the cost of its worst flooding in decades.

Residents walk along a flooded highway to safety in Zambales province, Philippines, on Friday.

A girl is carried out from mudslide caused by Typhoon Morakot in southern Taiwan on Monday.

The death toll so far in Taiwan stands at 15, with 55 missing and 32 hurt, since Typhoon Morakot struck the island Friday and remained in the area over the weekend before crashing into eastern China, state-run China Daily reported.

Rescuers using military helicopters managed to pluck more than 100 people to safety in the village of Hsiao Lin, as rains washed out roads and bridges in Kaohsiung County, severing all land vehicle traffic, Taiwan's Central News Agency said.

Locals estimated there were about 5,000-6,000 people in the mountainous village when the typhoon struck.

Journalist Andrew Lee told CNN that it was difficult to know the exact number of people stranded or dead because "SOS" reports were still filtering in, and damaged communication and power lines were being repaired.Video Watch more about the rescue effort »

He cited one report coming in that said 30 bodies had been spotted floating on the water close to a bridge in the area.

According to Lee, a number of other villages in the region had been washed away or buried by mudslides, with local government officials unable to determine the number of casualties.

Meanwhile, government officials said 1.5 million homes across the island were without electricity, and 440,000 were without water. Video Watch as six-storey hotel topples over »

The storm -- measuring about 1,600 kilometers (about 1,000 miles) across -- continued to pummel China's populous east coast, but forecasters said it is unlikely that Morakot would reach Shanghai, the country's largest city, which sits farther north along the coast.

Chinese government officials expect the typhoon to cause more than 8.5 million yuan ($1.2 billion) in damages, the newspaper said.

The storm made landfall in the coastal area of Beibi town, Xiapu county, in Fujian province, about 4:20 p.m. Sunday (4:20 a.m. Sunday ET), according to China's state-run Xinhua news agency.

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Morakot's winds were clocked at 118 kilometers per hour (73 mph) in its eye, according to the province's meteorological bureau, as cited by Xinhua.

Five houses were destroyed as the front of the typhoon brought flooding rains to Wenzhou city in neighboring Zhejiang province just after 8 a.m. Sunday, Xinhua said. Three adults and a 4-year-old boy were buried in debris about 8 a.m. Rescuers could not save the child, the city's flood-control headquarters told the news agency. Video Watch a dog escape as house is swept away »

A "red alert" -- the highest degree in danger levels -- was issued in Zhejiang, where more than 35,000 vessels were called back from sea, China Daily reported, citing provincial flood control officials.

More than 300 homes collapsed, and more than 16,000 hectares (39,500 acres) were flooded, Xinhua said. The city's airport was closed and 56 roads were rendered impassable.

As the eye of the storm reached Beibi, the sky turned completely dark, and people caught in rainstorms staggered as they used flashlights to see, Xinhua reported. Trees were uprooted and torn apart by damaging winds.

Farmers tried to recapture large numbers of fish, flushed from mudflat fish farms by high winds, Xinhua said.

Nearly 1 million people were evacuated from Fujian and Zhejiang provinces as Morakot approached. Late Friday, the storm lashed Taiwan, killing two people, wounding 15 and cutting power to about 650,000 households, according to Hong Kong's Metro Radio.

Meanwhile, another storm hit western Japan on Monday, with 13 people confirmed dead. Twenty others were missing, police said.

Among the victims of Typhoon Etau was a 68-year-old woman who died when a landslide caused a hill to collapse on her home in Okayama prefecture, police said.

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In neighboring Hyogo prefecture, an 86-year-old woman was found dead in her flooded house and a 54-year-old man in his submerged car.

Officials expect the number of victims to rise as torrential rains continue.

CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki and Eileen Hsieh contributed to this report.

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