Sun, Aug 06, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Storm death toll jumps to 48 in China

NO BREATHER Still reeling from the effects of the rains brought by Bilis and Kaemi, China saw fatalities rise in spite of a mass evacuation ahead of Prapiroon's arrival

AP , BEIJING

A villager collects bananas from trees blown over by Tropical Storm Prapiroon at a farm in Gaozhou in Guangdong Province on Friday.

PHOTO: AP

China's death toll from Tropical Storm Prapiroon jumped yesterday to 48, with 15 more people missing, after the storm knocked down houses and set off landslides and flash floods, news reports said.

Deaths were reported in Guangdong Province, where Prapiroon roared ashore on Thursday, and the neighboring Guangxi region to the west, the Xinhua News Agency said. It said 46,000 houses were destroyed, and damage was estimated at 2.4 billion yuan (US$300 million).

The deaths came despite a massive evacuation ahead of the storm that moved more than 400,000 people out of threatened areas.

Fatalities in Guangxi included six migrant farm workers whose shelter was swept away by a flash flood in the city of Laibin, Xinhua said.

Elsewhere, people were reported buried by landslides, struck by lightning and crushed by collapsed walls. A woman died after being hit by a billboard knocked down by high winds.

In Guangdong, a 25-year-old policeman doing rescue work was killed when he was buried by a mudslide in the city of Sihui, the Guangzhou Daily newspaper said. A front-page photo showed rescue workers in Sihui carrying a woman through churning, waist-deep water.

State television showed soldiers and police carrying children through racing, chest-deep water. Photos on Web sites showed wrecked buildings, uprooted trees and flooded farmland.

Heavy rain and high winds were forecast through yesterday across the provinces of Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan and Hainan, China's southernmost island and a popular tourist destination.

Some of those areas were still recovering from Tropical Storm Bilis, which killed more than 600 people in the country, many of them in Hunan.

Crowded Guangdong, the center of China's export-driven manufacturing industries, has been especially hard hit this year during a typhoon season that authorities warned would be worse than usual.

The city of Lechang in Guangdong has suffered 46 deaths since late June, with 65 people still missing, according to government statistics. More than 30,000 houses in the city have also been destroyed.

The Web site of Guangdong's provincial government said officials had sent 11 million mobile phone text messages to warn the public of the storm's arrival -- standard procedure over the past year.

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