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Hundreds stranded in typhoon-hit Taiwan

  • Story Highlights
  • Good weather will hopefully aid in the rescue of stranded people, government says
  • Taiwan President Ma says he accepts responsibility for slow typhoon response
  • Heavy rain grounded rescue helicopters after storm, Ma says
  • Typhoon killed 123 people in Taiwan and left many thousands homeless
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CISHAN, Taiwan (CNN) -- Hundreds of people await evacuation in Taiwan more than a week after Typhoon Morakot pummeled the island, a government Web site said Monday.

Food offerings for the dead in the afterlife in Jia Shian.

Mourners kneel and pray to the dead as they face the devastated valley of Shiao Lin.

Among the 244 people stranded in four hard-hit counties are tourists, according to the government.

"At the moment, the weather is very good, and hopefully they will all be sent to safety by the end of the day," the statement said.

Torrential downpours, dense fog, rugged terrain and raging rivers have slowed rescue efforts. Washed-out roads and bridges have made some rescue operations impossible, the Central Emergency Operation Center has said.

Taiwanese leader Ma Ying-jeou said Sunday he accepts responsibility for the government's slow response after the storm.

"Certainly, I will take full responsibility whatever the blame is because, after all, I am the president of this country," Ma told CNN.

Heavy rains grounded rescue helicopters in the first few days after the storm hit, delaying relief, Ma said.

"Once the weather was good -- that is the 14th of August -- we were able to evacuate 2,518 people. It's a record," he said.

More than 30 countries and territories have pledged money, helicopters, medication or other supplies.

Hong Kong officials said they would like to send HK $50 million (US $6.45 million). The aid request needs final authorization and was being considered by the government's finance committee on Monday. Video Watch rescue efforts in Taiwan »

Meanwhile, the U.S. military has begun a "modest" humanitarian aid mission to Taiwan, U.S. defense officials said.

The USS Denver was expected to arrive Monday off the coast of Taiwan carrying humanitarian aid and water purification capabilities, the officials said.

It is also bringing heavy-lift helicopters that can carry the aid and equipment to remote mountain areas that were cut off by the typhoon, the U.S. Navy said.

One of the helicopters, a Navy MH-53E, was conducting a site survey mission ashore. The ship also was carrying three other Navy helicopters: another MH-53E Sea Dragon and two MH-60 Seahawks.

On Sunday, a U.S. Marine Corps C-130 cargo plane flew into Taiwan to unload plastic tarps for shelter, the officials said.

The aid mission is smaller than the mission that the United States provided to Myanmar in 2008, officials said.

In aiding Taiwan, the United States must be sensitive to its territorial relationship with China, the sources said.

China considers Taiwan as a renegade province.

Morakot hit the island on August 8, dropping 2.6 meters (102 inches) of rain. The storm killed at least 123 people in Taiwan.

The death toll could climb to more than 300 after more villagers buried by mudslides and floodwaters are found, Taiwan officials have said.


Southern and central Taiwan were hardest hit by the storm.

Mudslides inundated some places in the south, including the village of Shiao Lin, where 160 homes were lost. Authorities believe hundreds of people could be trapped under five stories of mud in the village.

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