TAIPEI - SEARCHERS in Taiwan found mangled vehicle parts thought to be a bus carrying 19 Chinese tourists that disappeared when typhoon rains triggered massive mudslides on a mountainside highway, the transport minister said on Saturday.

Landslides caused by Typhoon Megi killed nine people and buried a Buddhist temple in hardest-hit Ilan county in the northeast, where a record 45 inches (114 centimetres) of rain fell over 48 hours. Three other people drowned in their flooded homes, the Central Emergency Operations Center said.

The bus passengers were among 23 people still missing on the island after Megi, which killed 28 people in the Philippines earlier in the week.

Megi pounded southern China's Fujian province with heavy rain on Saturday but was downgraded to a strong tropical storm with winds of up to 67 mph (108 kph). TV news showed flooded streets, uprooted trees and swollen waterways, but there were no immediate reports of major damage.

The searchers found the vehicle parts in a deep valley next to a coastal highway, Taiwanese Transport Minister Mao Chih Kuo said. 'The bus was covered all over by thick mud,' Mr Mao said.

Next to it was the wreckage of a second bus crushed by a huge boulder, but Chinese tourists on that bus were able to escape, Mr Mao added.

Megi kills 12 in Taiwan