President Ma Ying-jeou was confronted by dozens of survivors during a visit to typhoon-hit southern Taiwan on Thursday as the island’s death toll rose to 108.
Television footage showed dozens of people surrounding Ma in Tainan county, where at least 23 people were killed when floods triggered by Typhoon Morakot submerged houses and roads over the weekend.
“What is the government doing? It’s too late, they cannot be saved,” said an angry man. The president has come under fire after his bodyguards attempted to prevent two survivors from approaching him during an inspection in Taitung county earlier this week.
“We all support you. How come it is so difficult to see you?” asked a weeping man before Ma replied: “Slow down. You see (me) now.”
Ma swept to power last year promising to boost the flagging economy, particularly through closer trade ties with China.
The National Security Bureau, which is in charge of the president’s safety, has apologised to the public in a statement on the incident for “overly exercising its duties”.
As of Thursday, the typhoon, one of the worst in Taiwan in 50 years, had claimed 108 lives while 62 others were missing and 45 were injured.