Typhoon Megi Claimed 36 Lives in Taiwan as Chinese Tourists Declared Dead

The death toll in Taiwan from Typhoon Megi last month was revised to 36 after 20 Chinese tourists were declared dead.

The tourists went missing when their bus disappeared Oct. 21 during rains that accompanied the typhoon, Lin Che-hui, Yilan District’s head prosecutor, said by phone today.

Death certificates were issued today for 19 Chinese nationals whose bodies were not found and another was issued Nov. 1 after a DNA check of body parts, Lin said. Two Taiwanese locals are still missing, the prosecutor said.

Taiwan’s government dispatched 997 rescuers, helicopters, ships and excavators to continue searching for missing people and vehicles, according to a statement on the website of the Central Emergency Operation Center.

Agricultural losses in Taiwan from the storm are estimated to be NT$95 million ($3 million), the National Fire Agency in Taipei said in a statement on its website Oct. 29. Typhoon Megi dumped as much as 1.2 meters of rain in the northeast of the island between Oct. 21 and Oct. 23, according to the fire agency.

Chinese Tourism

The number of visitors from China to Taiwan has increased since the mainland opened its first official tourism office on the island in May. Chinese visitors to Taiwan may exceed 1.2 million this year, compared with 972,123 in 2009, according to Yuan Kai-zhi, an official at the tourism bureau’s international division in Taipei.

Relations between Taiwan and China, separated by the Taiwan Strait, are at the most cordial in more than more than 60 years after Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou took office in May 2008 and dropped his predecessor’s pro-independence stance.

Taiwan plans to ease restrictions and let individual Chinese nationals visit Taiwan from January, Taiwan’s top negotiator with China Chiang Pin-kung said in an interview in July. The island at present only issues visas for Chinese tourist groups, not individuals.

Typhoon Megi killed more than two dozen people in the Philippines before it made landfall in Zhangpu city in China’s southeastern province of Fujian. The storm hit the coast with winds up to 140 kilometers (87 miles) an hour, causing the evacuation of more than 270,000 people on the mainland, China’s Xinhua News Agency said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Adela Lin in Taipei at alin95@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Greg Turk in Shanghai at gturk2@bloomberg.net

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