Typhoon Morakot Kills about 500

About 500 people were killed by Typhoon Morakot last weekend, Taiwan's president said Friday as he called on rescue crews to step up their efforts.

Morakot destroyed the homes of 7,000 people and caused agricultural and property damage in excess of 50 billion New Taiwan dollars ($1.5 billion), President Ma Ying-jeou said at a national security conference, the first called since he took office 15 months ago.

He called it the most severe damage to the island in more than 50 years, The Associated Press reports.

Meanwhile, a total of 15,400 people have been rescued since Morakot dumped more than 80 inches (2 meters) of rain, the disaster relief centre said.

More than 170 houses were destroyed in Hsiao Lin which is inhabited by the Pingpu tribe of aborigines and has an official population of 1,300, although a number of residents were thought to have been away seeking work in the city, Telegraph.co.uk reports.

Rescue officials said 59 people were missing.

China has donated millions of dollars to Taiwan for relief work. Officials said Beijing would send relief supplies and health care teams to Taiwan, Sify reports.

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