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Taiwan must heed Morakot`s warning

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 In this image released by the Pintung County Government, rescuers work to transport the body of a fellow rescuer who died in a helicopter crash while...
 In this photo released by the Taiwan Military News Agency, soldiers survey the area to build a temporary bridge on a riverbed covered by a mudslide c...
 In this image released by the Taiwan Military News Agency, soldiers and survivors unload provisions for victims of Typhoon Morakot, Wednesday, Aug. 1...

Taiwan Asia Storm

In this image released by the Pintung County Government, rescuers work to transport the body of a fellow rescuer who died in a helicopter crash while...

Taiwan Asia Storm

In this photo released by the Taiwan Military News Agency, soldiers survey the area to build a temporary bridge on a riverbed covered by a mudslide c...

Taiwan Asia Storm

In this image released by the Taiwan Military News Agency, soldiers and survivors unload provisions for victims of Typhoon Morakot, Wednesday, Aug. 1...

The devastating impact of Typhoon Morakot and its massive rainfall on southern Taiwan constituted the latest and most severe of a series of natural warnings that Taiwan must make radical changes in development and land and water management policies to avoid continuation of a vicious cycle that will lead to even worse disasters.

As of 6 pm Wednesday evening, 71 persons were confirmed dead and 61 missing in the wake of Typhoon Morakot, which has inflicted at least NT$ 9 billion in damages.

Like past floods and landslides in the wake of heavy rains, the huge floods sparked by Typhoon Morakot were triggered both by ``natural`` and decades of ``man-made`` factors, notably the excessive exploitation and virtually unregulated ``development`` from resorts to orchards in high-elevation and high elevation mountainous lands and the construction of ``industrial roads`` that have stripped up cover from sensitive watershed slope lands.

Combined with the consequences of neglect of land and water resource planning under decades of the ``development above all`` authoritarian Kuomintang regime, the destructive power of these threats have been magnified by the shattering impact on rock and soil by the 7.6 magnitude earthquake of September 21, 1999 and the rising effect of global warming, which is intensifying the power of rains from typhoons and tropical storms.

Satellite photographs released Tuesday by National Central University`s Center for Space and Remote Sensing Research display how commercial or industrial zones or even hotels, residence and villages built right next to rivers and even inside their respective potential flood plains and ``protected`` by dikes have been swept away in flatlands such as Shuanghsi Bridge linking Kaohsiung and Pingtung Counties or mountain areas such as Hsiaolin Village in Kaohsiung County.

The damage inflicted by Typhoon Morakot is by no means the first such wake-up call, but its so-called ``200 year rainfall`` inflict