Taiwan vice minister offers to quit in typhoon row

Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:51pm EDT

TAIPEI Aug 18 (Reuters) - Taiwan Deputy Foreign Minister Andrew Hsia has offered to resign over the ministry's refusal of overseas aid after a devastating typhoon which could have killed more than 500 people, officials said on Tuesday.

But the ministry, which reversed course days after it refused non-monetary aid with a plea for supplies such as helicopters and mobile homes, declined to say whether it had accepted the resignation.

The Chinese-language United Daily News said Premier Liu Chao-shiuan had accepted Hsia's resignation.

Since Typhoon Morakot hit Taiwan over a week ago, more than 60 countries have donated about T$68 million ($2 million) in cash and other relief supplies as the army scrambled to rescue people from deadly mudslides.

So far, the official death toll is at 126, though President Ma Ying-jeou said last week more than 500 people could have been killed.

The government has also replaced the National Fire Agency's disaster centre chief with Transport Minister Mao Chi-kuo after criticism from the public that the previous chief was too slow off the mark in rescue operations. (Reporting by Ralph Jennings and Lin Miao-jung; Editing by Nick Macfie)