TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taiwan began a three-day mourning period to remember the victims of Typhoon Morakot today, two weeks after the island’s worst weather disaster in 50 years devastated its mountainous south.
The storm took at least 500 lives and caused more than $2 billion in property damage. It triggered landslides and widespread flooding that trapped thousands of people in remote villages for days.
Flags around Taiwan were lowered to half-staff, and government officials attended religious events paying homage to the storm victims.
Since the full dimensions of the Morakot disaster became clear about 12 days ago, President Ma Ying-jeou has struggled to assuage widespread anger over the government’s slow response.
His approval rating has now dropped to below 20 percent – a 30 percent decline in only three months – amid an almost daily battering in Taiwan’s hypercritical media – including in outlets normally friendly to the administration.