At least 12 people were confirmed dead and 52 others were missing in Taiwan today after Typhoon Morakot caused the island's worst flooding in half a century, the rescue services said.
The military was also trying to rescue thousands of people cut off by fallen bridges or raging rivers after the typhoon dumped a record 2.5 metres of rain on the island before it headed for the coast of mainland China.
At least 32 people were also injured as Morakot, which means emerald in Thai, lashed the island with powerful winds and rain, disrupting railway and road traffic and bringing down bridges.
In central and southern Taiwan heavy rain caused widespread floods and mudslides, particularly in the county of Pingtung, where thousands of people were trapped in three coastal townships.
In Kaohsiung county, a bridge collapsed, cutting off road access to a remote village of 1,300 residents.
Local television reported that 200 homes in the village, Hsiaolin, are believed to have been buried in a mudslide.
Footage showed rescuers using a helicopter to pick up an elderly woman and her son trapped in the mud.
"It is not clear what the residents' situation is, but we are sure that Hsiaolin elementary school has been fully destroyed," Kaohsiung County Magistrate Yang Chiu-hsin told reporters.