TAIPEI, Taiwan — Rescuers battled Monday against Taiwan's worst floods in 25 years, which have killed at least 21 people, left 14 missing and stranded 10,000 villagers without fresh water or electricity in mountainous areas, officials said.
Tropical Storm Mindulle, which was a typhoon when it struck Saturday, has pounded the island with more than 43 inches of rain. About 200 engineers and other workers at five hydroelectric plants also were stranded by floodwaters and mudslides, Taiwan's National Disaster Relief Center said.
The rains eased Monday but could continue to batter central and southern Taiwan until Wednesday, the Central Weather Bureau said. The storm also killed at least 32 people and left 11 missing in the Philippines.
In Taiwan's central Nantou County, more than 10,000 residents were trapped in nine mountain villages after roads and bridges were washed away. Many sought shelter in churches or public schools after their homes were destroyed by mudslides, officials said.
The military dispatched about 1,000 soldiers to rescue villagers and tourists from the devastated areas, officials said.
One of the dead was a bulldozer driver who was buried by a mudslide Sunday as he tried to dig a ditch to divert the floodwaters in Nantou, a relief center official said.
Helicopters were unable to drop off food and supplies because of bad weather conditions, a villager told TVBS Cable News.
"We are running out of drinking water and milk for children," the villager said. "We hope the skies clear up later so the helicopters can land."
Taiwan's government issued a warning to 81 towns and villages to prepare for more flooding and mudslides.
"We've asked workers to do their best to restore power and water supplies," government spokesman Chen Chi-mai said.
The worst damage was reported in Taichung County, where the five hydroelectric power plants were flooded or covered by mudslides. The facilities' 200 engineers and other workers have been trapped in dormitories since Saturday.
Damage at the five plants was estimated at $295 million, the state-run Taiwan Power Co. said. Taiwan's Council of Agriculture estimated crop, fishery, poultry and infrastructure damage at $98 million.