Mon, Aug 14, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Typhoon Saomai's death toll in China increases to 114

AFP , BEIJING

A total of 114 people were confirmed killed yesterday after Typhoon Saomai, the strongest storm to hit China in 50 years, battered its way across the populated eastern part of the country.

Another 183 were reported missing while hundreds were injured and damage was estimated at hundreds of millions of US dollars, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Most of the deaths reported so far were from Zhejiang, one of China's most developed and prosperous provinces, demonstrating what happens when the forces of nature are unleashed on a modern society.

In Wenzhou, a booming city with more than 1 million residents and an engine of economic growth for Zhejiang, 81 people were reported killed and 11 missing.

Six people were reported to have been crushed to death in a landslide triggered by torrential rain in Linshui, a city in Zhejiang.

Driving and communications were all but impossible in much of the province, with 56 highways and major roads flooded.

In Fujian Province, Saomai struck with such force that it had virtually wiped the village of Baisheng, a community of 300 households, off the map.

"Almost the whole village was flattened," an unnamed local resident told Xinhua.

Baisheng is near Fuding, a port city that also saw horrific damage.

Twenty-one people were killed and 1,350 people injured in Fuding and thousands of houses had collapsed, according to Xinhua.

China was only beginning to assess the damage to its farmland, which is still the source of livelihood for the majority of its people, with 68,800 hectares of crops damaged in Fujian alone.

Saomai generated winds of up to 216kmh when it hit Zhejiang, according to the China Meteorological Administration.

The typhoon was downgraded early on Friday to a tropical storm, and by early yesterday it had been further downgraded as a tropical depression.

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