updated 8/10/2009 9:40:33 PM ET 2009-08-11T01:40:33

A massive landslide triggered by a deadly typhoon toppled at least six apartment buildings burying an unknown number of residents in eastern China, a state news agency said Tuesday.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the landslide in the town of Pengxi, in Zhejiang province's Wenzhou city, was triggered by heavy rains carried by the storm Morakot, which has already killed six people and left three missing in mainland China.

The landslide destroyed at least six four-story apartment buildings at the foot of a mountain at 10:30 p.m. local time (1430 GMT), Xinhua said.

"At that moment I was watching the news on TV and suddenly I heard rumbling sounds," a resident living in the neighborhood told China Central Television. "I stood up and listened to the sound across the street, and in about one second the whole building came crashing down."

Six people pulled out alive
Xinhua cited rescuers as saying it was not immediately known how many people were buried. Six people were pulled out alive, although one was in critical condition. Search operations were hampered by the huge amount of mud and rock, Xinhua said.

Typhoon Morakot, which means emerald in Thai, forced the evacuation of 1.4 million people in eastern China. It landed Sunday in Fujian province after slamming Taiwan over the weekend with as much as 80 inches (two meters) of rain.

Taiwanese authorities put the confirmed death toll in Taiwan at 23, but that seemed certain to rise. The storm triggered a mudslide that buried a remote mountain village, leaving at least 400 people unaccounted for. Military rescue helicopters, unable to land because of the slippery ground, dropped food to desperate survivors.

The storm inflicted the worst flooding the island has seen in at least a half-century, submerging large swaths of farmland in chocolate-brown muck and swamping city streets.

Taiwan's Cabinet appropriated 20 billion New Taiwan dollars ($600 million) of emergency funds to help with relief work and to compensate the victims' families.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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