ILAN (Taiwan) - AT LEAST seven people died when a temple collapsed in Taiwan on Friday as torrential rains unleashed by Typhoon Megi triggered landslides that also left dozens missing and hundreds stranded.

Megi, the strongest storm to hit the north-west Pacific in two decades, has already killed at least 36 people in the Philippines and was expected to make landfall late on Friday or early Saturday in Fujian province in south-east China.

Along China's densely populated south-eastern coastline, authorities have evacuated more than 160,000 people from low-lying areas, while dozens of flights have been cancelled and thousands of fishing boats recalled to port.

In Taiwan, rescuers recovered seven bodies buried under the debris of Bai Yun Temple in Suao, a coastal town in the northeast Ilan county, the National Fire Agency said in a statement posted on its website. Two nuns are believed to be among the dead.

More than 20 people, including Chinese tourists, remained unaccounted for after their buses were trapped along a badly damaged highway in Ilan as the torrential rains hit, rescuers said.

About 400 people in a long line of cars were stranded when the mudslides blocked the road but 70 were later airlifted to safety and the rest were expected to leave by foot or bus after rescuers cleared part of the highway.

Megi kills 7 in Taiwan