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Typhoon forces 500 000 to flee

14 July 2013, 16:48

Beijing - Eastern China was bracing for torrential downpours from Typhoon Soulik on Sunday, which forced the evacuation of half a million people after killing two in Taiwan.

Soulik lashed coastal Fujian province with winds of 118km/h 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 neighbouring Zhejiang 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 cancelled.

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

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

Two people killed

In Taiwan, two people were killed, one was missing and 104 were injured by the storm, with one town reporting widespread landslides and floodwaters a storey high.

The northern village of Bailan saw the heaviest rain, with 90cm falling in 48 hours, with winds gusting up to 220km/h.

While Soulik wrought havoc in Taiwan, tearing roofs from homes and causing landslides that blocked roads, eastern China escaped its full force.

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

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

Dozens dead

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

Officials were calculating the cost of the storm, with the Zhejiang city of Wenzhou alone facing a direct economic loss of $34m, the agency said.

In Taiwan thousands of soldiers and workers spent Sunday cleaning up, with hundreds of fallen trees being removed in the capital Taipei.

In Puli, a small township in the central Nantou County, dozens of soldiers equipped with trucks and buckets helped residents whose homes were flooded when river banks burst.

Wu Yuan-ming, a township government official, told AFP: "The most difficult part of the work is the removal of the thick mud in the houses and roads. It may take three days to finish the work."

Damage to the agricultural sector was estimated to be $8.5m, according to the government.



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