Mon, Jul 15, 2013 - Page 1 News List

China evacuates 500,000 as storm hits

AFP, BEIJING

Eastern China yesterday braced for torrential downpours from Typhoon Soulik which forced the evacuation of half a million people.

Soulik lashed China’s Fujian Province with winds of 118kph when it made landfall, but had weakened to a tropical depression as it moved inland, the China Meteorological Administration said.

More than half a million people were evacuated from Fujian and Zhejiang provinces as the typhoon approached, with 5,500 soldiers deployed to carry out relief work if needed.

Xinhua news agency said almost 31,000 ships were called back to port and 20 flights canceled.

Soulik brought torrential rain to Xiamen, with 24cm of rain falling on the port city from Saturday to yesterday.

Rivers swelled beyond warning levels in some areas, and waves up to 10m high pounded sea defenses in Ningde City.

While Soulik wrought havoc in Taiwan, eastern China escaped its full force.

“Billboards have been shattered and trees have been uprooted,” but no deaths or injuries were reported, Xinhua said.

Officials were calculating the cost of the storm, with the Zhejiang city of Wenzhou alone facing a direct economic loss of 210 million yuan (US$34 million), the agency said.

The storm was set to dump up to 18cm of rain on eastern parts of the country over 24 hours as it moved further inland, forecasters said.

Downpours have already hit wide swathes of China over the past week, leaving dozens dead in rain-triggered landslides.

Xinhua reported that a group of Vietnamese tourists who became trapped by a landslide in Gansu Province amid the week-long storms that have killed at least 89 people have reached a major town yesterday.

At least 100 tourists, including the 38 Vietnamese, were trapped on Friday night in after a landslide cut off traffic, the state news agency said.

They were en route to a nature reserve in Sichuan Province, which has been hit the hardest by the storms, and had reached accommodation by later that night following road repair work to free them.

They finally arrived in the central city of Xian yesterday morning, but have canceled their travel plans, Xinhua said, citing local authorities.

A man on duty at the Xian City Government Office said he had no information to give.

The whereabouts of the remaining tourists was unknown.

Meanwhile, a collapsed dam triggered a flood at a scenic spot in the southern province of Guangxi in the afternoon, killing eight tourists and injuring five others, Xinhua reported.

Authorities were searching for an unknown number of missing. It was unclear whether the dam collapsed as a result of the storms.

Sichuan has reported at least 48 storm-related deaths over the past week.

A massive mudslide that struck a scenic resort outside the city of Dujiangyan on Wednesday killed 43 people.

Flooding in the province was the worst in 50 years for some areas, with more than 220,000 people forced to evacuate.

Mudslides and flooding are common in China’s mountainous areas, killing hundreds of people every year.

In the northwest province of Shaanxi, 26 people died in landslides or house collapses.

At least 12 workers were killed in the northern province of Shanxi when a violent rainstorm collapsed an unfinished coal mine workshop.

Another three people were drowned in a car in Hebei Province outside Beijing.

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